Turkish resumes energy exploration in eastern Mediterranean. Image Source: IANS News

Ankara, Dec 1 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a series of new measures, including full weekend lockdown, to curb the spread of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The weekend curfew will start at 9 p.m. on Fridays and end at 5 a.m. on Mondays, while the overnight lockdown will be imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every weekday, Xinhua news agency quoted Erdogan as saying at a press conference on Monday after a cabinet meeting.

"We take our steps carefully not to turn it into social or economic crisis," the President told reporters, noting the new measures will take effect on Tuesday.

Some businesses, including supply chain, production, health and agriculture services, will be exempt from the curfew, he said.

Groceries, slaughter houses and supermarkets will offer delivery services within the limited time frame, while cafes and restaurants will continue to be restricted to takeaway services, according to the President.

The kindergartens will be closed, Erdogan noted. Turkey has already introduced distance learning for higher-grade students until the end of the year.

Turkey has been imposing a partial lockdown for people aged over 65 and under 20, but the President on Monday added they will also not be able to use public transportation.

The citizens will be asked for their HES (Life Fits into Home) codes, a mandatory application introduced by the Ministry of Health to show citizen's health status, when entering shopping malls.

The number of people participating in weddings or funerals will be limited to 30.

Erdogan said that the country will begin free Covid-19 vaccinations for Turkish citizens in December as the government has purchased 50 million doses for the initial phase.

In mid-November, the Turkish government reimposed partial lockdowns on weekends; closed and allowed only delivery for restaurants and cafes; introduced new working hours for businesses; and suspended all activities of gaming halls, clubs and football fields across the country.

The new restrictions come in the wake of a sharp escalation in new Covid-19 cases and fatalities.

On Monday, an additional 31,219 people tested positive for the virus, raising the country's overall caseload to 638,847.

The death toll rose by 188 to 13,746.

Turkey reported the first confirmed Covid-19 case on March 11.

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