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Turkey: Chaotic COVID-19 Policies and Small Victories

Note: Since the writing of this article, the situation in Turkey has improved and the Pfizer vaccine has become available to the public. 

When things are not fully transparent, it’s hard to spread the news to outsiders. My reality is probably different from some other Turkish person’s reality, so please keep that in mind before making a conclusion about a country with more than 70 million citizens. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was very hesitant to fly back home, worried that I might not be able to go back to Oberlin and see my friends again. Luckily that wasn’t the case. I had a fairly unsocial summer holiday in Turkey and went back to Oberlin for the fall semester. Realizing that the whole year was going to consist of mostly online classes, I flew back home during winter and since then I have been in Istanbul. It wasn’t the greatest experience, since I was isolated every day and dealing with an eight hour time difference. However, I was also happy to spend some more time with my family. 

The vaccination availability and rates are still quite low here. We’re facing some interesting regulations such as a daily 10 p.m. curfew, a full lockdown every Sunday, and an outdoor mask requirement. The rules change every week — which feels a bit chaotic. One week the restaurants are open, the next week they’re closed. You can have a wedding ceremony indoors, but you can’t have a concert outdoors. On Sundays, you’re not even allowed to go out for a walk in a park by yourself. 

Fortunately, my parents both got their first shots of the Pfizer vaccine recently and my friends are being cautious and safe. For me, that matters most. I’m not really hopeful about this summer. While the tourists enjoy the best of what Turkey has to offer, we citizens might be under a lockdown again. You never know. Despite all that, I’m leaving home soon and I hope the best for my people while I’m gone.

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