In order to prevent the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19 (Coronavirus), which has spread to the whole world, many precautions are being taken by governments, institutions and organisations. The precautions and measures taken in Turkey were examined in our previous article published on 23 March 2020 with the title ‘Precautions and Measures Taken against Covid-19 Pandemic’. As a continuation of our previous article, we hereby wish to mention the measures taken recently in light of the current developments.
I. MEASURES TAKEN BY LAW
‘The Law Amending Certain Laws numbered 7226’ (the Omnibus Bill) was published on the Official Gazette dated 26 March 2020 and numbered 31080. The measures taken to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak in our country have been enacted by the Omnibus Bill. In line with the measures taken in relation to the pandemic, regulations have been made on many issues such as the Ceasing of Proceedings, Conditions for Benefiting from the Short-Term Work Allowance, Compensation Time, and Lease Payments. You can reach the detailed content related to the Omnibus Bill from our article published on 27 March 2020 with the title ‘The Law Amending Certain Laws Numbered 7226 and Its Legal Reflections to Business Life’.
II. TAX REGULATIONS
The Ministry of Treasury and Finance announced the General Communiqué No. 518 on the Tax Procedural Law, published in the Official Gazette numbered 31078 (repeated), dated 24 March 2020 (Communiqué). The Communiqué provides benefits to tax-payers directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the related governmental responses, as foreseen in the force majeure provisions of the Tax Procedural Law No. 213.
With the Communiqué, the tax-payers whose workplace operations were temporarily suspended within the scope of the measures adopted by the Ministry of Interior, directly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and primarily engaged in the following industries: (i) retail, including shopping centres; (ii) iron, steel, and metal industry; (iii) automotive; (iv) logistics and transportation; (v) artistic activities such as cinemas and theatres; (vi) accommodation, including tour operatorship and travel agencies; (vii) food and beverages services; (viii) manufacturing and trading textiles; (ix) events and organisations, is considered to be subject to a force majeure event between the dates of 1 April 2020, and 30 June 2020. For the sectors determined by the Communiqué, the tax declarations and VAT returns that should be submitted in April, May and June were also deferred for six months.
Consequently, 1.9 million income taxpayers were included within the scope of the ‘force majeure condition’, thereby paving the way for them to benefit from the government supports. Furthermore, the deadline for filing returns/declarations and tax payments for the people over 65 years old and people with chronic diseases were postponed until the end of the 15th day following the date curfew was ceased.
III. MEASURES REGARDING MARKETPLACES
The Ministry of Interior (the Ministry) announced the Additional Circular on Marketplaces within the Scope of Combating the Coronavirus Outbreak (Circular) on 27 March 2020 and it has been decided to temporarily cease the activities of all markets where non-essential goods such as clothing, toys, ornaments, and bags are sold as of 27 March 17.00. Accordingly, sale of non-essential goods in the markets where citizens are provided with basic food / cleaning materials such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, cleaning materials shall not be allowed.
In order to provide basic food/cleaning materials for the citizens who live in the province, district, and town, new markets/sales places can be established according to the requirement, taking into account the density in the existing markets. At least three metres distance must be left between stalls to reduce the density in marketplaces. In addition, the market/sales places will be able to operate until 19:00 at the latest; notifications for this will be made to market trades.
IV. MEASURES REGARDING GROCERY STORES
The Ministry of Interior (the Ministry) announced on the Additional Circular on Grocery Stores within the Scope of Combating the Coronavirus Outbreak (Circular) on 24 March 2020 and with the Circular, the working hours and the maximum number of customers that can shop in grocery stores have been regulated.
The maximum number of customers in a grocery store cannot exceed 10% of the size of the area. For instance, if a grocery store is 100 square metres, only ten customers will be able to shop at the same time.
All grocery stores must hang banners at their entrance indicating the maximum number of customers that can shop at the same time and that customers must keep a distance of one metre between one other. Grocery stores must take the necessary measures to comply with mentioned restrictions; for instance, grocery stores cannot allow additional customers to enter the premises if the maximum number of customers are already present in the store, and grocery store workers will inform the customers waiting outside that they must keep a one-metre distance between them.
V. MEASURES REGARDING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Some measures related to public transportation are also regulated in the context of the above-mentioned additional circular on Stores within the Scope of Combating the Coronavirus Outbreak published by the Ministry on 24 March 2020. All urban and intercity public transportation vehicles in the provinces/districts (including intercity passenger buses); all public transport vehicles will be allowed to carry only half of their capacity. Seating arrangements must be in a way to prevent the passengers from touching each other.
VI. MEDICAL SERVICES
An announcement on ‘Pandemic Hospitals’ was published by the Ministry of Health. It is aimed to minimise patient density in hospitals and reduce the heavy workload of health personnel. All hospitals meeting the relevant conditions under this announcement are designated as pandemic hospitals.
Carrying out the acceptance and treatment processes of patients applying to health institutions by all state and private health institutions have been made compulsory until the diagnosis of Covid-19 is confirmed.
Hospitals that have at least two doctors who are infectious diseases and clinical microbiology, chest diseases and internal medicine specialists; and have third-level adult intensive care beds, will be considered as Pandemic Hospitals. In places where pandemic hospitals are inadequate and cannot sufficiently respond to public health needs, hospitals with second-level intensive care units for adults will also serve as a pandemic hospital.
Hospitals that are not pandemic hospitals will take the necessary measures and transfer patients with Covid-19 to the relevant hospitals as determined through a transfer algorithm.
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