The world is still in disarray, and traveling freely seems like a distant yet pleasant memory. However, we have to remember that it’s not always going to be like this.
Come on, a little positivity, people!
The hope is that with countries worldwide getting on with their own COVID vaccination programs pretty quickly, the world will start to normalize, and we’ll be off on our merry little ways once more.
If you are planning on traveling, you have to be mindful of the various rules and restrictions that are currently in place. It’s also worth noting that this is a fast-moving situation, and things can change at the drop of a hat. For now, however, if you’re planning on visiting Turkey, there are a few things you need to know.
Entry Into Turkey
Due to the new variant of COVID detected in the UK, it is currently impossible to fly directly from the UK to Turkey. Flights have been temporarily suspended, and there is no word as of yet as to when this might change. In addition, anyone traveling to Turkey who has been in the UK, Denmark, or South Africa in the last 10 days will need to quarantine upon arrival at a location selected by local authorities.
For everyone else, a negative PCR test is required for entry into Turkey. This needs to be within 72 hours of travel, and without this, you will be denied boarding.
Provided you have that negative test, and you’ve not been to any of the above-mentioned countries in the last 10 days, you will be permitted to enter the country but will be asked to fill in a passenger locator form. This form will include where you are staying in Turkey. Arrivals are also subject to temperature checks upon arrival and within the airport.
Masks Are Mandatory
Masks are mandatory in all public spaces, including airports, on flights, buses, in taxis, boats, on the street, in shopping malls, etc. Police are present on the streets in main towns and cities, and if you are caught not wearing a mask (covering mouth and nose), you can be fined 900TL.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should keep your social distance also, which is very difficult in large cities but always do your best.
Curfews And Lockdowns Are Currently In Place
There are several curfews and lockdowns in place; however, these may be lifted in some capacity soon.
Currently, from Monday to Thursday, there is a curfew from 9 pm until 5 am. From Friday 9 pm until Monday 5 am, there is a weekend lockdown; however you can go out and do your shopping from 10 am until 5 pm during these days, but you can only go to the supermarket or market closest to your house on foot.
Tourists visiting Istanbul are exempt from these weekend lockdowns, but there is literally nothing open during the weekends, so what you would do at this time is unclear! However, you can walk, and provided you can show evidence that you are a tourist, if stopped by authorities, you should be fine.
An Outdoor Smoking Ban Is In Place Also
There is a ban on outdoor smoking in parks, bus stops, on the streets, etc. This is to encourage people to wear their masks at all times whilst outside. Again, if you’re caught smoking on the street, the authorities can stop you and question what you are doing, etc. Whilst you may see some locals doing it, it’s not to be recommended, and it’s always best to stick to the rules!
Restaurants & Bars Are Currently Closed
Under the current curfew and lockdown rules, bars and restaurants are closed. Cafes are open for takeaway service during weekdays, but you can’t sit inside to enjoy your drink. Restaurants can provide takeaway service. If you stay in a hotel during curfew hours and you’re a little peckish, simply download the Yemeksepeti app, which will show you all the local restaurants currently delivering, and you can munch away; to your heart’s content!
Again, there is no word yet on when the hospitality sector might be able to open once more, but this is regularly reviewed, so it’s a case of keeping an eye on the news to find out when or if rules may change soon.
Keep An Eye On Local News
Turkey’s COVID situation is improving, thanks to fast action and lockdowns; however, throughout the entire pandemic, we’ve seen that rules can be implemented very quickly if necessary, and sometimes there is little notice. For that reason, if you’re traveling not only in Turkey but anywhere globally, make sure you download a good news app and listen to the local news to find out what is going on from day-to-day.
But, What About Summer?
Turkey has just started their immunization program, and it is moving at speed. It is hoped that the most vulnerable will be immunized very soon and the rest of the population in stages after that. While there is no solid word on what will happen in summer, the hope is for a relatively “normal” summer season.
Last year was a tough one for the Turkish tourist industry, just like everywhere else globally, but the promise of the vaccine brings a lot of fresh hope. Bookings are up for summer in most tourist resorts, with many hotels already full up on certain weeks – there is a huge demand!
It’s likely that there will still be restrictions of some kind in place, e.g., wearing masks, social distancing, etc. Last summer, when the resorts were open for a few months, restaurants had to social distance their tables, temperature checks on the door, mask-wearing, and limited opening hours. Clubs were also prohibited from opening. It’s possible this will happen again, but the hope is that a more normal season will occur – we have to wait and see.
As for entry requirements, the need for a negative PCR test is in place until at least March, and with further review, after that, we will know whether this will continue or not. Flights from the UK are currently suspended, but again, this only temporary, and we are waiting for news on when this will change.
As with anywhere in the world, there are no firm answers. However, with Turkey’s solid approach to dealing with the pandemic and the promise of the vaccine both in the country and worldwide, the hope for a relatively regular summer season is high.