Markets selling fresh fruit and vegetables in Turkey, including district bazaars, will be open over the next two Saturdays. While supermarkets and stores have been barred from selling goods deemed “nonessential,” like toys, stationery and tech products, for the remainder of the lockdown implemented to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Interior Ministry’s latest circular, the district markets selling fresh vegetables, fruits and seedlings will be open between 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. local time on Saturday, May 8 and 15. Another circular published earlier includes regulations on products that can be sold in markets during the full closure period, which will last until May 17.
Accordingly, electronic goods, clothing, garden supplies and auto accessories are among the goods that will no longer be available for sale in stores, including retail chains like BIM, A-101 or Migros, during the “full closure” period. Makeup and perfume sales will be barred at such stores according to the ministry's notice issued to all 81 provinces, but residents may purchase groceries, cleaning products and food for their pets.
The sale of alcoholic beverages is also among the barred goods.
It is stated that these restrictions are for "preventing overcrowding that may occur in markets" and were determined as a result of negotiations made with the relevant ministries, public institutions and organizations, trade associations and sector representatives.
This period marks Turkey’s strictest lockdown to date to curb the soaring coronavirus infections and a rise in deaths related to COVID-19. The restrictions include the three-day Ramadan Bayram, also known as Eid al-Fitr, holiday.
For much of April, Turkey reported an increasingly high number of cases, with the number of daily infections reaching a record high of 63,082 on April 16.
But the 17-day total lockdown and other measures have helped Turkey drastically bring down the number of daily coronavirus infections, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said earlier this week.
“We have seen a significant reduction in case numbers. We believe the measures will also lead to a drop in the number of deaths and patients in critical condition,” Koca said during a brief virtual press conference Wednesday.
Due to the strictest lockdown that Turkey has ever seen since the beginning of the pandemic, case numbers started to decline once again, reaching as low as 24,733 on May 3.
During the full closure period, residents must stay home but are allowed to shop for groceries and other essential items during certain hours and can travel between cities if they obtain permission from the authorities.
There is no clear definition of essential foodstuff in the legislation, laws or other regulations.
However, there is a list of basic food items attached to the regulation on value-added tax. This list includes products such as live animals, meat, milk, dairy products, flour and bakery products, sweets, chocolate, coffee, tea, spices and dried herbs, various fruits and vegetables, nuts, dried fruits and sausages. “Meat, milk, fish, flour and bakery products" are listed as examples of basic foodstuffs in some circulars issued by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The Health Ministry meanwhile defines the category on its website under five titles: milk products, meat-egg-legumes group, vegetable group, fruit group and bread and cereal group.
Whether the sale of cigarettes is banned has not been explicitly included in the circular, although deputy Ismail Çataklı told Anadolu Agency (AA) that there were no restrictions on cigarette sales.