Turkey’s pandemic sales ban hits tea glasses, toys and electronic goods

Turks looking to replace a broken tea glass will have to wait until the end of the nationwide lockdown, according to a new update on pandemic restrictions published in a circular by the interior ministry late Monday.

The circular sent to 81 provinces bans the sale of what it calls all non-essential products, including kitchenware, clothing, electronic goods, toys, auto supplies and garden ware, among others, as of May 7.

The latest update, which aims to reduce shopping crowds, arrives as an update to the nationwide lockdown and restrictions that began on Thursday evening, prompted by the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, which registered as high as 60,000 a day in recent weeks.

Ankara is hoping to stifle the spread of the deadly virus with a 17-day lockdown, just ahead of the country’s vital tourist season.

Only supermarkets, butcheries, bakeries, greengrocers and dessert shops are allowed to remain open, according to the regulations.

The latest restrictions arrive following a ban on alcohol sales, which spared outrage Turkish social media, with critics accusing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of using the pandemic to push its Islamist agenda.

The ban on alcohol salesoverlap with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan while mosques across the country remain open for worship.

Turkish social media on Tuesday reacted to the latest round of sales bans, with many pointing to the arbitrariness of the new rules.

"Fine we will just drink tea straight out of the pot,’’ one Twitter user wrote. "Just like those who drink straight out of a bottle.’’

Another user pointed out that the sale of non-essential items was banned only in markets to avoid unfair competition.

"But you can still purchase these items from online stores, because they exist in another galaxy,’’ the user said.

“Who decides on what is essential with the items that I am in need of,’’ a prominent businesswoman said on Twitter, noting that the country was drowning in “deep authoritarianism.’’