Ceremonies to send off conscripts have been banned in some of Turkey’s provinces, including the capital Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir and Bursa, as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The announcements were made by governors’ offices in line with a recommendation by the provinces’ advisory health councils after observing that the participants of the ceremonies were largely failing to comply with social distancing measures.
The ceremonies risk the health of citizens, especially newly recruited troops, and the country’s success in the battle against the pandemic, said a statement made by the Istanbul’s Governor’s Office.
Only first-degree family members will be allowed to send newly recruited troops to boot camps at the bus stations, train stations or airports, the statements noted.
In Turkey, new soldiers are traditionally sent to their boot camps with huge ceremonies and celebrations. Attendees sometimes perform the traditional halay dance, which involves people holding each other’s hands and their shoulders touching each other’s to form long lines, in what could appear to be a perfect ground for the spread of the virus.
The ceremonies also involve a large crowd of people, usually close friends of the fresh soldier, converging on main streets to form car convoys.
Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has recently said that society is not careful enough in complying with the coronavirus measures, giving the example of military service send-off celebrations.