The Turkish Parliament has taken extensive measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Political parties have canceled parliamentary group meetings scheduled for this week. The General Assembly, in the meantime, will continue working with the minimum staff as part of an agreement reached between different parties.
Parliamentary group meetings, a crucial element of Turkish politics, involve speeches by party leaders about ongoing national and international developments. They are held weekly and are broadcast live, keeping the public in touch with the latest political developments.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has canceled its meeting scheduled for March 18. Party sources said if the meeting may be held after next week without any visitors.
AK Party group meetings are held in the largest hall since it has the most lawmakers, and visitors from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), municipal officials and students.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Good Party (İP) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have all canceled their parliamentary group meetings scheduled for March 17.
Meanwhile, AK Party Group Deputy Chairman Naci Bostancı noted that none of the AK Party lawmakers visited Saudi Arabia recently as part of the Umrah pilgrimage.
“Nine deputies who recently went abroad for compulsory meetings are currently isolated in their homes and will stay isolated as per the health ministry’s guidelines,” Bostancı added.
Last week, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey said no visitors would be allowed in Parliament until March 31.
The minimum number of lawmakers will continue to hold debates on the economic omnibus bill in Parliament. Amendments, in line with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recommendations, may be made to the bill later, according to sources.
The Turkish Parliament has been strictly enforcing measures against the coronavirus. Three staff, who were referred to the hospital, tested negative for the virus, a statement by Parliament confirmed.
Meanwhile, the CHP is planning to reschedule its ordinary congress planned for the end of this month.
The AK Party also canceled its upcoming camp in Ankara's Kızılcahamam district, scheduled for April 3-5.
MHP is also paying a lot of attention to measures against the coronavirus, disinfecting the entire party headquarters while urging members to refrain from close encounters.
As Ankara ramped up measures to curb the outbreak, the Interior Ministry ordered a nationwide closure of almost all places of social gathering, including cafes, cinemas, gyms and wedding halls. The ministry earlier ordered all bars, discos and nightclubs in all provinces to be closed down as well. The country’s top religious authority, the Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), announced a ban on prayer gatherings, including Friday prayers, while leaving the mosques open to people who want to perform daily prayers.
The government earlier closed schools for two weeks starting on March 16, while universities were closed for three weeks.