Can I travel to Turkey and what are the latest Covid restrictions?
What are the rules for restaurants?
In more fancy places you’ll have to take your temperature and show your HES code at the door, but once inside you can sit as close to people as you like on your own table – and remove your mask. Tables should be spaced at least 1.5 meters apart and are disinfected between sessions. In smaller places, you may not have your temperature taken. Compliance is generally higher at more expensive establishments, although even humble kahvehane (tea rooms) are subject to the same social distancing measures.
What are the rules in bars?
As with restaurants, in more upscale bars you may need to have the temperature checked and show your HES code at the entrance. Social distancing tends to be more lax than in restaurants, although tables should always be away from each other and bar staff wear masks (usually, but not always, over their noses and mouths!) and disinfects tables. If everything calms down after midnight, it is because of a Covid 19 government regulation which prohibits playing music, neither live nor recorded, after midnight. This rule also applies to nightclubs.
What are the rules for shopping?
All stores have a sign outside reminding you not to enter without a mask – which you should of course already be wearing. In small stores such as grocery stores, there is a limit, based on the square footage of the store, on the number of customers that can enter. Once inside, follow the standard distance rule of 1.5 meters. Things are stricter in supermarkets, where you can have your temperature taken and be required to show your HES code. It is essential to scan your HES code at the entrances to shopping centers; here you will also have your bag checked in a pre-Covid 19 era security measure.
What are the rules in hotels?
Hotels with 30 or more rooms are subject to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Safe Tourism Certification Program, set up by the government to reassure guests around Covid 19. When checking in you will need to have a your temperature, show your HES code and fill out a form asking if you have had or been near someone with Covid 19. Tables in restaurants and common areas should be 1.5 meters apart, just like sun loungers by the pool. At the buffets, you indicate the dishes you want and the masked staff puts it on your plate. The staff will have been doubly vaccinated and regular hygiene and sanitation checks and procedures will have been carried out. Membership in the plan is voluntary for small establishments.
What are the rules for public transport?
Public transport has returned to the pre-pandemic era in a sense, as the removal of the non-permanent passenger rule effectively means that there are no social distancing measures on urban or intercity transport. Once again, commuters can hook up on Istanbul’s overcrowded trams, metro cars or city buses and sit near their fellow travelers on Bosphorus ferries. It is the same all over the country. Passengers are again allowed to sit side by side on buses and intercity trains. However, you will need to present your HES code and masks remain mandatory in all public transport.
Should I take cash or pay for everything by card?
Your UK credit or debit card should work in Turkey, but may well be subject to overseas transaction fees when paying for goods or services, and cash advances when withdrawing from an ATM. . While contactless payments (for purchases of 250 TL / £ 21 or less) and chip and PIN payments are ubiquitous in Turkey, some places may hesitate at the sight of a “foreign” card. Basic cafes, outdoor markets, and street food vendors stay cash only. My advice would be to take a reasonable amount of money and change it when you arrive in Turkey (where the exchange rates are much better than in the UK) and use it in bars, restaurants and the like, in keeping your card in reserve for major purchases.
Do I have to take a test before returning to the UK?
Yes. Currently, you must pass a test 72 hours before departure. Failure to do so will either deny you boarding or risk a fine of up to £ 500 upon your return to the UK. You can find government rules on pre-departure testing here.
What is the case rate in Turkey?
Turkey’s seven-day average case rate is 48 per 100,000. The UK, by comparison, is 466 per 100,000.
How is the vaccination campaign going in Turkey?
61.59% of the population received a first dose, 32.54% received a second dose.