Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said police will conduct raids on New Year’s parties held in disregard of rules aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is impossible for us to allow these [parties]. Our [police] intelligence will conduct operations wherever they find these gatherings. The lives of our people are more important than anything else,” Erdoğan told reporters following Friday prayers in İstanbul.
The daily number of coronavirus infections, which was around 30,000 last week, is some 20,000 a day this week, according to data from the Turkish Health Ministry, although medical associations claim it to be much higher.
Despite calls from the medical community, the Turkish government has not imposed a full lockdown but has been implementing weekend lockdowns and nighttime curfews for some time.
In mid-December, Erdoğan announced that a four-day full lockdown beginning on Dec. 31 would be imposed in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
The Turkish president has recently attracted widespread criticism due to a video showing him holding a banquet with live music at his presidential palace for Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa El-Kazımi in violation of coronavirus measures.
The video showed most guests not wearing masks or social distancing at a time when the pandemic is currently not under control in Turkey.