Turkey to clamp down on New Year’s parties amid virus curfew

ISTANBUL (AP) — A four-day lockdown is set to begin in Turkey at 9 p.m. Thursday — New Year’s Eve — in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19, and measures against New Year’s gatherings are to be enforced.

Turkey’s president has warned parties will not be allowed and law enforcement w illmonitor for any violations. The interior ministry said gathering would be banned “not as a preference but as a necessity” for public health.

Istanbul’s governor said Thursday some 34,000 law enforcement personnel would be on duty to enforce the rules in Turkey’s most populous city. The interior ministry announced more than 208,000 officers would be working across the country and have set up thousands of control points.

Tourists, who have so far been exempt from lockdowns, will also not be allowed to go to symbolic squares and avenues.

Turkey has among the worst infection rates in the world but official statistics show the seven-day average of daily infections has dropped to around 16,000 from above 30,000 since evening curfews and weekend lockdowns were instituted in early December.

The total death toll to date is 20,642, according to health ministry statistics.

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