The once lively and crowded streets of Istanbul are now empty after the announcement of enhanced lockdown guidelines. The government of Turkey strictly prohibits its residents from roaming around the city during weekends, and everybody must comply with curfew hours. No one gets excused from going outside starting 9 PM to 5 AM every weekday. Non-compliance will result in paying applicable fines up to $400. Residents are mandatory to abide by curfew and lockdown rules, but the borders of Turkey remain open for tourists willing to visit.
Turkish essential workers and foreigners staying in the country get exempted from the curfew restrictions. Health screening happens upon arrival at the airport. Travelers must present a negative PCR test 72 hours from the date of their travel. They can also avail the test once they arrive at the airport. Foreign travelers who tested positive will have to coordinate with the Ministry of Health.
Though some leisure facilities remain closed, museums and accommodations are ready to welcome visitors. Some hotels offer indoor and outdoor dining for a limited number of guests. Malls and supermarkets are open from 10 AM until 8 PM. Most foreign nationals came from Russia, Middle East, Europe, and America. Foreign travelers could enjoy the city all by themselves during weekends. Traveling in Turkey during this time seemed like a fascinating experience in general. Most of the visitors find comfort in the new setup, rather than traveling to overcrowded destinations. Police set up patrols and checkpoints in compliance with the lockdown guidelines. They would ask people to present their IDs or passport.
Other locals try to understand that it's a bold move to boost the declining revenue of tourism. Some locals do not like the idea of tourists roaming around the city, and they fear that it may spike the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. They could not afford to have a second wave, especially when hospitals are full and running out of medical staff.
Despite the bold attempt to revive the hospitality industry and aim at least half of the figures in 2019, tourism revenue in 2020 was down by 75%. The Culture and Tourism Ministry remains hopeful for the recovery of the industry. They foresee a tight race to sustain the travel and hospitality industry in a couple of years. The tourism sector hopes for progressive results and sustainable growth by 2022.
The government of Turkey suspends flights from the following country as of January 27, 2021, due to a new variant of COVID-19:
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