ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday 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.
The holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and Turks usually gather with family and friends to celebrate, sometimes travelling to different towns or cities.
The lockdown, which will bar most people from leaving home, is the broadest so far in Turkey, where previous lockdowns have been imposed in 31 or fewer cities.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, rose to 150,593 on Monday, with 1,158 people diagnosed in the last 24 hours, Turkish health ministry data showed. The death toll stands at 4,171.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan also said schools would only reopen fully with the new academic year in September.
The education ministry said distance learning – via the internet or television – would continue until June 19, the last day of the current academic year.
Turkey has started taking steps to ease lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus as the number of daily cases has declined from a peak in April.
Erdogan said mosques would begin allowing mass prayers for midday and afternoon prayers as of May 29. He also said the house arrest period for prisoners who were released as part of coronavirus measures had been extended for two months.
Turkey has conducted more than 1.6 million tests for the coronavirus since the outbreak began.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Gareth Jones)