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Thousands of businesses in İstanbul, Ankara halt operations amid COVID-19

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A total of 20,000 businesses in İstanbul and 15,000 in the Turkish capital city of Ankara have had to halt operations, some permanently, due to measures aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic, according to statements from the chambers of commerce of the two cities.

Over the past several months Turkey has been battling a soaring number of coronavirus infections, with the government recently taking some measures to contain the pandemic such introducing weekend lockdowns, nighttime curfews and the closure of restaurants.

The Turkish government has been criticized by the Turkish medical community for failing to declare a full lockdown of at least 14 days to reduce the infection rate. Business owners, however, who do not get any financial assistance from the government to alleviate the effects of the pandemic, are complaining about the lack of a helping hand from the government.

A business owner in Ankara who requested anonymity told BCC Turkish edition that the government should at least suspend the tax obligations of business owners and that commercial rents should be restructured.

According to head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce Gürsel Baran, in addition to the businesses that had to close down in Ankara, thousands of others, although not shuttered on paper, are barely managing to survive on a low daily volume of activity.

“The services sector in Ankara in particular has been going through difficult times,” said Baran.

Şekip Avdagiç, head of the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce, also called on the government to defer the tax obligations of the 20,000 businesses in İstanbul that had to close due to coronavirus measures, adding that the government should also provide interest-free loans to these businesses.

According to data from the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), 85,263 new businesses were established in Turkey in 2019 and 14,050 were closed. In the first 10 months of 2020, the number of newly established businesses in the country stands at 85,452, while 11,784 companies closed in the same period.

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