Erdogan Imposes New Weekend Curfew in Big Cities After Uproar

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(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s president announced a second consecutive weekend lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and warned banks to accelerate lending.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 31 cities must observe a curfew from midnight April 17 to midnight April 19. The announcement, made after a cabinet meeting on Monday, confirmed earlier comments made by a senior official on condition of anonymity that the government was considering extending weekend lockdowns.

The Turkish leader also issued a stern warning to private banks, saying they weren’t “passing the test” in extending loans to troubled businesses. Turkey won’t “bow down” to any imposition, including an IMF program, he said.

Erdogan has repeatedly said the country must keep the economy running, and the weekend-only lockdowns are designed to limit exposure to the virus as the warm weather draws people outdoors.

The first curfew was announced just two hours before it was imposed last weekend, setting off a crush of panic-buying that resulted in throngs of people defying social-distancing guidelines.

The bungled launch of restrictions provoked an uproar. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu submitted his resignation late Sunday, but Erdogan rejected it.

As of Monday, Turkey had reported 61,049 coronavirus cases, with 1,296 fatalities.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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