Turkey bans smoking in crowded public places nationwide

The Turkish authorities have banned smoking in crowded public places across the country in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.

The Interior Ministry sent a circular to governorates across Turkey, forbidding smoking in many outdoor places, including crowded streets, mass transit stops and town squares, Anadolu said.

Violators of the ban will be fined in accordance with the General Public Hygiene Law and the Turkish Penal Code, Anadolu said.

The measures come as concerns grow over resurging infection rates across the country. According to official figures, there were 2,693 new patients diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 402,053. Since July, the Ministry of Health has only included those it deems as “patients”, rather than all positive cases, in the data it releases.

On Nov. 3, the government announced that businesses such as hairdressers, cinemas and swimming pools must close by 10 p.m., at which point restaurants and cafes will only be permitted to provide a takeaway service. Meanwhile, health authorities in Turkey's capital of Ankara introduced a daily curfew on residents over the age of 65 between 10:00 a.m. and 4 p.m.