Turkey sees deserted cities amid 2nd weekend lockdown to curb coronavirus spread

Parks, boulevards, streets, and squares were deserted in Turkey’s 31 major provinces on Sunday, the second and last day of the second lockdown which was declared on Friday to curb the fast spread of COVID-19.

In Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city with a population of 16 million, the three bridges over the Bosphorus Strait connecting the European and Asian parts were all emptied.

Security forces boosted their controls at the legs of the July 15 Martyrs Bridge against anyone who intended to break the lockdown without permission from the governor’s office.

Since the morning hours, police officers have fined two people for not complying with the ban, local media said, noting Istanbulites mostly obeyed the curfew.

Health workers, press members, funeral attenders, and bakers are exempted from the prohibition.

Istiklal Avenue, one of the most visited spots in Istanbul, and the neighboring iconic Taksim Square were photographed as empty from the air.

“All we can hear is the bird chirps,” a resident in the Dikilitas neighborhood told Xinhua from her balcony. “It is as if we are in a resort town rather than in a megacity.”

A video posted by Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya on Twitter showed dolphins playing on the Bosphorus Strait.

“Now it is their turn to enjoy Istanbul,” Yerlikaya noted.

Meanwhile, Ekrem Imamoglu, mayor of Istanbul, visited the call center which assists Istanbulites in case of their emergencies or any difficulties.

Answering several calls for a while, Imamoglu asked citizens to stay at home and take care of their health.

“We will start a new period together by ensuring that cities will be happier, peaceful, and respectful to nature,” Imamoglu was quoted as saying by a municipal press release.

In the Mediterranean province of Antalya, many residents have spent the weekend mostly on the roofs of their apartment buildings under the sunlight, according to press reports.

A video aired by the online news portal of the Milliyet Daily showed several people listening to music and dancing on roofs.

In the western province of Izmir, telecommunication teams were seen on streets to provide nonstop internet service for the residents, according to Yeni Asir, a local media outlet.

“We are working very hard to provide non-interrupted internet service as people are surfing the net very intensely,” an employee of a telecommunication company was quoted as saying by Yeni Asir.

Turkey’s first lockdown was imposed on April 11 and 12, aiming at preventing people from going out as weather conditions across the country improved.

Turkey has so far recorded 82,329 coronavirus cases and 1,890 deaths, according to the latest data released by the health ministry.