last march, with the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, turkey shut down swiftly and strongly. schools, restaurants, bars, shopping malls; even outdoor spaces were closed almost overnight. banks and other essential businesses were allowed to operate on very limited schedules and most people remained at home. as the pandemic picked up speed in turkey more stringent rules were put into place- including limits on travel international and domestic travel; complete curfews on the weekends; and rules requiring children under the age of 20 and seniors over the age of 65 to remain at home- with the exception of a three hour “outside time” window once a week.
it was a very quiet time for families in turkey; trying for the thousands of families who did not have an economic backup plan and extremely stressful for the millions of people who live in crowded small apartments. the overall uncertainty that was felt across the board didn’t help.
but the silver lining of the hardship was that these measures seemed to work. at no point did the turkish hospitals get completely overwhelmed. ppe was available to anyone who needed or wanted it- and with people sheltering at home, a surplus of protective material soon existed. not once did i hear of a shortage of ventilators. demographics probably helped. the median age in turkey is 31.5 years old. this virus preys on the weak and the elderly.
by the middle of may turkey was opening up again. new rules (again!) shopping malls were open. restaurants and bars too; with limited seating and outdoors spaces open only; but open, nonetheless. schools remained closed but people were able to travel and many did. turkey is a beautiful country and there is so much to see. we took advantage of canceled international trips to see parts of the coast that we had never visited before. it was almost, almost, possible to forget that a deadly virus had kept us shut up in our homes just a couple of months ago.
but, as expected, the second wave is here. en force. and in their effort to keep tourism alive, th current regime did not disclose the numbers of daily infections in a transparent and thorough manner. only the number of daily patients admitted to the hospital was reported to the public. reasons for death that could conceivable be reported as anything other than covid 19 were recorded and conveyed as such. the result has been harsh. with a lack of information upon which to base their decisions people have continued to move about, congregate and socialize.
for a variety of reasons, the government has finally started to disclose the actual numbers of infected citizens. some say that the who has put pressure on the government to issue proper statements. some say that the vaccines will be distributed based on per capita infections and that is the real reason behind the recent disclosures. and some just say that the time has come; tourism season is behind us and the general population has not yet been able to grasp the reality of the situation.
regardless, the rules have changed- frequently in fact- in the month of november. halfway through the month schools were shut down again, as were restaurants and bars. unfortunately, the overall effect was not quite enough. with no curfew in place people have stopped going to restaurants- but started going to friends’ houses. restaurants and bars are open for take-out and delivery, which has resulted in continued person to person contact.
as hospitals have filled up and the number of exposures has multiplied the government instituted new rules; yet again, last night. hopefully this will help. but it basically means that we are back at home- locked down. it’s ok. and if it helps, then it is really ok.
what is strange though is that every time the rules change our world changes too. once we become accustomed to a certain system is just seems to flow. and then, when the flow is interrupted it is almost as if we start from ground zero and let me tell you- readjustment is a real pain. inevitably there is a small blow up at home (usually on my part) and it takes us all at least a couple of days to fall into a familiar and comfortable pattern.
and that is where we are. again, adapting to a new reality. figuring out how the new rules work and creating yet another new existence within these confines. it’s ok. we’ll get there.
i am eternally, and possibly frustratingly, optimistic- so- in light of all of this constant change all i can say is this– thank goodness for the distraction of december and the festive season!!! here’s to the season of light…