Turkey announces wedding restrictions as top medical association says measures lifted too soon

The Turkish Interior Ministry issued on Saturday a notice to the country’s governor’s offices detailing rules for weddings aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19.

The circular sent to all 81 Turkish provinces calls for no dancing, shorter weddings that are held outdoors, mandatory masks for all those in attendance, including the bride and groom and no contact between guests, including hand-shaking, Diken news site reported.

Any gifts for the couple tying the knot are to be placed in an assigned area or left in a box, it said. 

At the beginning of June, Turkey lifted weekend curfews and curbs on intercity travel, re-opened cafes, restaurants, parks and beaches, and resumed some international flights after the number of daily deaths in the country took a downward trajectory in recent weeks, to around 20.

Turkey banned wedding celebrations completely for several months in March, garnering protests from young couples-to-be. Official certificates of matrimony could still be obtained, but many couples pleaded that their conservative families did not consider them to be truly married without the traditional ceremony.

Turkish officials have called on the public to maintain social distancing, mask-wearing and heightened hygiene practices as the country’s COVID-19 death toll has reached nearly 4,800.

Turkey’s top medical association criticised on Friday the decision to ease restrictions, saying the moves had arrived too soon and failed to be backed by science.

“There is talk of when the second wave will hit, but we have not yet been able to overcome the first wave,” Diken quoted the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) as saying in a press conference.

“Turkey’s success in treatment can be announced prematurely, in a way that is not based on scientific work,’’ it said.