ISTANBUL, April 4 (Xinhua) -- The police and local authorities in Turkey's biggest city Istanbul have beefed up their efforts to push citizens to follow newly announced measures against COVID-19.
To curb the fast spread of coronavirus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday announced a series of measures and noted that vehicles would no longer be able to enter or leave 31 provinces. The travel ban also covers three major cities: Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
The transportation of necessities are excluded from the ban.
However, despite the travel ban, long queues of vehicles were seen at the entrances of Istanbul.
People with masks inside the vehicles attempted to pass the checkpoints into the city by trying to convince the security units.
Police teams and gendarmerie forces were positioned at the main gates, boosting security measures to cope with the growing number of travelers.
Paramedics were also present at the checkpoints to take the temperatures of the passengers.
Additionally, Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines announced on Twitter that it suspended all its domestic flights until April 20.
The carrier had already reduced the frequency of domestic flights to 14 major cities across the country at the end of March.
Meanwhile, the Istanbul metropolitan municipality on Saturday started to distribute 100,000 face masks free of charge to residents, in line with the new rule, which said wearing masks would be mandatory in crowded areas.
"Passengers without a face mask will not be admitted on buses, metro buses, or city line ferries as of tomorrow," Murat Ongun, spokesperson for the Istanbul Municipality, said on Twitter on Friday night.
The Turkish president also declared a partial curfew for the citizens under the age of 20 to curb the fast spread of COVID-19.
Earlier, Turkey banned elderly citizens over 65 years old and those with chronic diseases from going out of their homes.
Ongun said with the new measure, a total of 5.8 million people in Istanbul, whose population is 16 million, are banned from going out.
Ekrem Imamoglu, mayor of Istanbul, announced on Saturday from his Twitter account that thermal cameras were installed at the main subway stations across the city, and people with fever would be immediately directed to health centers.
The death toll from the virus climbed to 425, and the confirmed cases totaled 20,921 on Friday across the country.