President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on May 18 that a four-day lockdown starting on May 23 would be imposed nationwide as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus during the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday.

Turkey will celebrate the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in three days. This year’s holiday period is scheduled to fall between May 24-26.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdoğan also said schools will not re-open this academic year and education will continue in person in September with the new academic year.

Turkey has gradually begun to take steps for post-coronavirus normalization in recent weeks. The country is likely to take major easing steps after Ramadan in late May.

Erdoğan said mosques would begin allowing mass prayers mid-day and afternoon prayers as of May 29. He said the house arrest period for prisoners who were released as part of coronavirus measures had been extended for a further two months.

“Turkey is successfully winning the battle against this outbreak,” said Erdoğan.

He asked citizens to comply with social distancing rules, warning that stricter measures could be adopted if there is a surge in the spread of the virus. Erdoğan went on to say that the country was not facing any difficulty in meeting the demand for medical and hygiene equipment.

Referring to the travel ban in 15 major cities, he said it will be extended by 15 days. The cities with the travel ban include Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Balıkesir, Bursa, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Manisa, Sakarya, Samsun, Van and Zonguldak. Earlier in April, Turkey imposed the country’s first travel ban across 31 provinces to stem the spread of the virus and later lifted some of them.

Erdoğan also stressed the only way to end the pandemic is its elimination globally. Reiterating that the state was standing with its people in these turbulent times, the president said financial aid was dispatched to 5.5 million low-income citizens.

He said the Başaksehir Cam and Sakura City Hospital will be inaugurated on May 20 with the participation of the Japanese premier. The hospital complex in Istanbul was built with the collaboration of both countries.

Criticizing the opposition parties in parliament, Erdoğan said that in the coming period, Turkey will not only beat the epidemic and reach its 2023 goals, but it would get rid of the “diseased political representatives.”

Erdoğan accused them of being in cooperation with terror organizations such as the PKK which, according to him, called for “Coup, junta, chaos, disaster at every opportunity.”

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