Turkey allows street markets to open on Saturdays

The Turkish Interior Ministry has amended a previous order to keep street markets for fruits and vegetables shut down throughout the country’s strict lockdown, in a circular sent to all 81 provinces on Tuesday.

According to the circular, street markets and farmers markets will be allowed to open on Saturdays during the nation-wide shut down between April 29 and May 17.

Some restrictions, including a ban on the sale of non-essential items in supermarkets that remain open, will go into effect on Friday.

“No hiccups in implementation will be allowed and (law enforcement units) won’t cause harm,” the ministry said.

The order came after footage emerged on Turkish social media on Monday of farmers throwing away containers full of produce because wholesalers stopped buying.

“Farmers took their produce to the wholesalers to sell for 2 liras the goods they would have charged 8 to 10 lira for, but this is the result,” one resident of the southern Antalya province said in a tweet, accompanied by photos of peppers dumped into the trash.

Under the lockdown rules, sales restrictions will apply to alcoholic beverages, electronics, toys, stationary, clothing, home textiles, car accessories, gardening equipment, hardware products and tableware.

The restrictions do not apply to cosmetics, “except for perfumes and make up”, the ministry said. Basic food items, cleaning supplies and pet food are exempt from any restrictions, however, what constitutes “basic food” has been subject to debate.

Following a surge of daily COVID-19 cases to above 60,000, and ahead of tourism season, the Turkish government decided to implement the country’s strictest lockdown to date.

Schools, non-essential businesses and almost all small shops are to remain closed, while most factories continue production and some shops -bakeries, butchers, etc.- are allowed to open for limited hours.

On the fifth day of lockdown, daily COVID-19 cases fell to 28,997 and 336 people lost their lives, according to health ministry figures.