Living in Turkey During the Coronavirus Spread
While the UK government faces empty supermarket shelves and vast criticism of their handling for the COVID-19 spread, expats living in Turkey have adapted to sudden changes enforced in recent weeks with ease.
Although Turkey was one of the later countries to confirm Coronavirus cases, they implemented swift action before the UK to curb social interaction but still ensure daily life carries on. Tolga Ertukel Director of Turkey Homes says discouraged social interaction is clear in many bars and restaurants closed for business, but expats are reassured by many factors.
Tolga says firstly, Turks are notorious for cleanliness, whether this is personal hygiene, or within the home and workspaces. They do not need a virus to kick into action with vast cleaning sprees because they do it normally. Local councils have also taken to power cleaning and disinfecting streets and public transport like buses and taxis.
Supermarkets are disinfecting trolleys and installing hand sanitizer at the doors. Tolga also pointed out the vast difference in stock on supermarket shelves compared to the UK. Having seen pictures on Facebook of panic buying in the UK, for toilet roll and hand sanitizer, he didn’t experience any of that, on his last visit and completed a full shop of fresh, frozen, and long-life goods.
Expats and Turks also have increased faith in the health system. Over the last decade, the government has invested millions into upgrading the public health system and encouraging private healthcare via subsided payments through the SGK system.
One last thing that people in Turkey, whether they are foreign or Turkish count on, is the community spirit. Turks have always banded together in times of need, and when expats arrive on these shores to make it their home, they find it easy to settle in among existing neighbourhoods.
Perhaps the biggest concern for expats and Turks is when life will get back to normal. The Turkish government aims to get flights from all major airports back up and running by April the 17th. The official tourism season starts on May the 1st, but places like Antalya are losing out on the winter tourism trade.
For Tolga Ertukel and many expats in coastal seaside resorts like Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris and Antalya, they know tourism, bars and restaurants are the hubs of daily life and hope business owners survive until life gets back to normal. Until then, it is just a case of weathering out the storm until they can enjoy an active social life once again.
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