Turkey holidays: New face mask law could change the holiday experience in Turkish resorts

With airlines restarting and countries relaxin border restrictions, many Britons may be eyeing up a holiday as soon as the Government gives the green light. However, new rules being enforced in Turkey could change the holiday experience for tourists.

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In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Turkey has announced that all visitors and residents must wear a protective face mask when in public.

The strict rules impact some of Turkey’s most popular holiday resorts, including Bodrum and Marmaris as well as Turkey’s most populated city Istanbul, where people must wear face masks constantly when out and about.

This includes on beaches, in parks, in restaurants and when shopping at markets, meaning typical holiday ensembles will see a new addition to the look.

Breaking the rule once will result in a warning.

Tourists and locals alike will be subject to a fine of 900 Turkish lira ( approximately £105) if they are caught for a second time in public without a mask.

However, hotels will be excluded from the rule which means holidaymakers are free to ditch the face-covering when on hotel property.

In line with this, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice for Britons.

It explains: “The wearing of masks is obligatory throughout Turkey in crowded places and specifically in markets and supermarkets, hairdressers and barbershops. The wearing of masks is also compulsory on all public transport, including Metro, buses, taxis and ferries, and in some areas, masks must be worn when travelling in private vehicles with more than one person.”

It adds: “The wearing of face masks is mandatory at all times outside the home in the following provinces: Adıyaman, Afyonkarahisar, Amasya, Ankara, Ardahan, Aydın, Balıkesir, Bartın, Batman, Bolu, Burdur, Bursa, Denizli, Diyarbakır, Düzce, Elazığ, Erzurum, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, Giresun, Iğdır, Isparta, Istanbul, Kahramanmaraş, Karabük, Kayseri, Kırklareli, Kocaeli, Konya, Kütahya, Malatya, Mardin, Muğla, Muş, Nevşehir, Osmaniye, Rize, Sakarya, Siirt, Sivas, Şanlıurfa, ŞırnakTekirdag, Tokat, Tunceli, Uşak and Zonguldak.”

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Amid the push towards new social distancing and hygiene measures, Turkey has also launched a new initiative to encourage tourism.

The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism launched a “Safe Tourism Certification” scheme to instil confidence in visitors and set a new level of hygiene standard across the tourism industry.

As part of the regulations, tourists will be given face masks when arriving at airports.

No one will be allowed to enter airport terminals without an adequate face covering.

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Body temperature testing facilities will also be in place at the entrance to airport terminals, and regular disinfection will be in place throughout.

Authorities also suggest that, if required, protocols have been mapped out for those classed as “high risk” travellers, though it does not specify what is classified as “high risk”.

Additionally, a COVID-free certification will be rolled out to tourist businesses that meet the cleanliness criteria and have set out appropriate social distancing methods for guests.

Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey, says: “Turkey has been a role model for the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to its well-established health system and treatment methods. The launch of our Safe Tourism Certification programme further demonstrates that Turkey will take a pioneering role in terms of directing the normalisation of tourism.

“Global quarantine measures have caused unique developments all around the world, however, these measures are getting more flexible and the tourism sector itself plays a vital role in helping return to normal processes.

“In our culture, it is extremely important to care for our guests, meaning that we are dedicated to providing healthy and safe tourism for everyone.”

At the time of writing, Britons remain advised not to travel internationally unless absolutely essential.

The FCO does offer some hope, though, stating this advice is “under constant review”.

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