The government ended confusion on fines regarding mask requirements enacted against the COVID-19 pandemic with a new regulation. Starting on Monday, anyone found not wearing a mask in cities where they are compulsory will be fined TL 900 ($131).
The Interior Ministry instructed the governorates of 81 provinces to effectively hand over fines.
Those not wearing masks are first warned and repeat offenders are fined. Police and gendarmerie were already issuing warnings to those caught without masks. A public health law allows authorities to punish those not in compliance with measures against the coronavirus. Confusion occurred as some local governorates had set varying fines for violations.
Currently, it is obligatory to wear a face mask at all times for people going out in 48 provinces, while citizens are required to wear masks in some venues like shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and hairdressers in 33 provinces.
Turkey on Saturday confirmed 1,248 new coronavirus infections as total cases reached 186,493. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll increased by 22 to 4,927 in the past 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Twitter. More than 1,300 recovered from the disease on Saturday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday warned the Turkish nation of increased infections and deaths from the coronavirus and called on people to continue wearing masks, keep a distance from others and practice vigilant hygiene.
Koca also warned that the outbreak was not over and the current normalization process does not mean taking a step backward. He said that a controlled social life is key to the prevention of COVID-19 and urged people to keep adhering to social distancing rules.
Last week, Istanbul, the capital Ankara and the northwestern city of Bursa joined 45 provinces in Turkey that have made wearing face masks in public mandatory as the Health Ministry warned of a steady rise in COVID-19 cases in those cities. Wearing masks is already obligatory in a large number of enclosed spaces, from supermarkets to restaurants, but authorities have been laxer in enforcing mask-wearing outdoors. Police often stop and warn people who are not wearing masks to do so. Turkey is seeing an upward trend in the daily number of infections after cafes, restaurants, gyms, parks, beaches and museums were allowed to reopen, intercity travel restrictions were lifted and stay-at-home orders for the elderly and young were eased at the beginning of June as part of the “normalization process.” Experts have attributed the rise in the number of infections to large gatherings such as weddings, funeral ceremonies and parties to send off new conscripts starting their military service. Turkish media have been filled with reports of people ignoring social distancing precautions at such gatherings.