Istanbul officials issue 1.7 million lira in curfew-busting fines over weekend

Turkish officials have issued 1.7 million lira ($222,000) in penalties to Istanbul residents violating the partial weekend lockdown on Sunday, the second day of the nationwide curfew enacted to stem the upward trajectory of the pandemic.

The fines were given to 747 people who defied the 8 p.m.-10 a.m curfew over the weekend in Turkey’s largest city, which hosts 60 percent of the country’s total infections, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said on Twitter.

The new restrictions, which also include limited hours for restaurants and businesses and the suspension of in-class schooling, arrive as the country is experiencing the worst increases in the number of infections since the pandemic made its foray in March.

Turkey's daily coronavirus death toll hit a record high on Sunday with 6,017 people diagnosed with the deadly coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data. The daily death toll from COVID-19 was 139, bringing the cumulative total to 12,358.

Twitter users on Sunday shared eyebrow raising footage of mall shoppers in Istanbul eating on the floors of shopping centres, as residents find creative ways to skirt around restrictions that have limited restaurants take-out only.

Earlier on Sunday, Erdoğan said further restrictions would be underway if citizens failed to follow health regulations, but said he believed the virus’ trajectory would be reversed within weeks.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has announced that it will apply sanctions against any health institutions that overcharge for COVID-19 testing in defiance of the ministry-determined fee, Birgün newspaper reported on Sunday.

Measures taken against institutions found to be price-gouging will include a closure of the facilities, the ministry said.