Turkey’s western city struggles against COVID-19 pandemic

Turkey’s western port province of Izmir has been consolidating its struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic with increasing controls and new measures amid the government’s ongoing normalization process.

Local officials have significantly stepped up their controls in crowded places, continuously warning people to follow the rules, including the social distancing measure, after the government introduced a schedule to ease the pandemic restrictions.

Wearing masks outside became mandatory as of Wednesday, the governor’s office of Izmir declared at a written statement the previous day, noting that those who do not obey will be fined.

Izmir, with a population of over 4 million, is the country’s third-biggest city after Istanbul and the capital Ankara, and one of the most affected regions from the coronavirus. Being a port city and a major tourist attraction spot of Turkey, it has been particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

In line with the normalization process, shopping malls and barbershops had resumed their operations last week across the country.

Following their openings, long queues were seen in front of the shopping malls in Izmir with people not wearing masks and not obeying the social distancing rule, according to press reports.

The Izmir Scientific Council operating under the umbrella of the municipality said the risk was not yet over in the city and warned residents to stay at home, the Sozcu daily reported.

Tunc Soyer, mayor of Izmir, told Xinhua that municipal teams are strictly patrolling shopping malls in the city and carrying out scrutinized inspections to see if the rules are followed.

“We also conduct disinfection works in barbershops and regularly disinfect public areas such as public transport, health institutions, and police stations against the coronavirus pandemic,” Soyer added.

The Izmir municipality has also been working hard to supply the increasing demand for surgical masks in the city, producing around 60,000 masks per day for those who are in need.

Soyer also urged all Izmir citizens to be more patient, expecting normal life to come back soon.