Wed. Oct 20th, 2021

Istanbul, Turkey – Small business owners say they may be forced to break the country’s strict lockdown bans, which include bans on selling liquor and opening “non-essential” stores, as they can’t lose business for more than two weeks.

Ankara is hopeful that the 17-day lockdown – the toughest today – will reduce the spread of COVD ahead of the country’s crucial tourist season from Thursday.

Turkey has banned flights due to an increase in infections in recent weeks – a move that came immediately after Russia announced an immediate ban on 7 million tourists in 2019.

The home ministry announced on Tuesday that shops selling electronic products, clothing, garden supplies and auto accessories would be closed “from the crowd” from Friday.

The lockdown brings disaster for many individual businesses, which have not yet received financial support from the government, as only chain supermarkets, butchers, bakeries, greengrosers and confectionery shops are allowed to do business.

Before the lockdown, people enjoyed the last chance to socialize at Moda Beach Park in Kadikoy on April 28 [Emre Caylak/Al Jazeera]

‘They Did Nothing’

Y্ডld (z, 38, lives on the top of a liquor store popular with young liberals and students in Istanbul’s Kadikoy Moda neighborhood. He says the coronavirus was involved in a trade war even before it hit the Turkish economy. More business losses due to the epidemic have no alternative but to break its new restrictions.

“If I know someone and they come to my apartment, I will sell to them because otherwise, I will not make any money. But if you come here as a stranger and ask, I will not say, “He added,” If caught, the fine is 10 times higher than the minimum monthly wage.

“They [the government] Can help us provide social security or rent. But they did nothing, nothing less. “

Ildiz said he has received two grants since the epidemic began – one at 500 lira ($ 60) and the other at 700 lira ($ 84), but the curfew and lockdown have not done much to cut the cost of the damaged business. .

He and other merchants say their rents, electricity, gas and other expenses have risen as inflation has hit more than 1 percent in April, but their prices have remained the same as consumers fight the final battle.

Critics say the alcohol ban is religiously motivated and has nothing to do with the spread of COVID. The bans will be on Ramadan and its aftermath Eid al-FitrAlthough many are unclear whether the ban is legally binding.

A source in Istanbul Municipality confirmed to Al Jazeera that alcohol is banned.

The decision to exempt tourists from restrictions has also been sharply criticized. A Turkish man was arrested on a weekly holiday for swimming in the sea, but was banned after four tourists dived at the time.

As many as 394 KVIDs died in Turkey on Friday, its largest daily toll, but the number of its daily cases dropped from more than 633,000 a few weeks ago to about 25,000. According to a Reuters statement, the country ranks fourth globally in the number of daily cases on an average of seven days, and Germany, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Iran have travel warnings.

‘Annoyed by this thing’

More than two million jobs have been allowed for people working in the manufacturing, food, hygiene and health sectors, according to Home Ministry sources. Roads and public transport are still busy in some Istanbul neighborhoods, and tourists are allowed to roam free, raising questions about whether combat businesses need to lose their income, especially during the busiest shopping period.

Last Thursday, before the lockdown began at 7pm, the parks were filled with people enjoying the last chance to be localized and there were very few signs of police efforts to limit the crowds. People flocked to the supermarkets, cleaned up the shelves of alcohol, and the merchants said they had doubled their recent business.

Murat, 40, waits for customers at the public market in Kukukpazar, Fatih, Istanbul. [Emre Caylak/Al Jazeera]

Politicians have been criticized for restricting COVID and have been criticized in the past for their detention after several ministers from the ruling AK Party, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took part in a rally on Sunday for violating attendance restrictions. Huge party congresses attended by thousands of people.

Many stores are already ignoring a night curfew before the recent lockdown takes effect.

“Everyone was supposed to close at 6pm before the lockdown, but they are open until 7pm or 8pm and no one wants to say anything. Even the police are annoyed with this kind of thing, ”Ildiz said.

“Lockdown is not going to be good for anything. “People don’t worry anymore. It’s too late. We have bigger problems,” he said, fearing for the survival of their business.

Murat, 40, who sells kiwis at a street market in Balat, said he has lost 15,000 lira (১ 1,600) in profits since the epidemic began.

“I make less money than I spend because everything goes up in price – gas, electricity, everything goes up, but what I don’t do doesn’t go up. I can’t make a living, ”he said.

“The price of my stall has gone up. Three times more. We are at the bank. The government is not helping. I have a lot of credit cards, and now I can’t make money for about three weeks. I have five kids and I don’t know what to do. “

Supermarkets, which have already become a threat to individual food vendors, have been allowed to remain open, forcing small stalls selling cheese, fruits and vegetables to close because these restrictions only allow people to go to their nearest food store.

“We are not afraid of corona, we are afraid of hunger,” Murat said.

“It doesn’t matter how many people die. The government supports them only on their behalf. No matter what happens, it’s usually the poor who suffer, not anyone else. “

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