Turkey restricts travel from Istanbul to Black Sea region

Turkey restricts travel from Istanbul to Black Sea region

Nuray Babacan-ANKARA
Turkey restricts travel from Istanbul to Black Sea region

Turkish authorities have restricted movements of some 100,000 people, who live in Istanbul but want to travel to the Black Sea provinces, to harvest tea in their land plots there, in a bid to curb the coronavirus spread in the region.

Following a meeting with officials from the Interior Ministry, the governors of the Black Sea provinces of Rize, Artvin, Trabzon, and Giresun have announced that only people, who reside in nearby cities, will be allowed to do the harvest work this year.

The decision was taken after a large number of people in Istanbul had applied for travel permission.

The officials said that some 100,000 people, who presently live in Istanbul, grow tea in those four provinces in the Black Sea region, and travel from Istanbul with their families to their hometowns in this region for the harvest each year.

The authorities reckon that such a circulation of people may pose threats as the country is struggling to take the spread of the coronavirus under control.

“If 10,000 people out of 100,000 have the COVID-19, the virus will spread to the entire Black Sea region. Thus, under the guidance of the Health Ministry and Interior Ministry, the travel from Istanbul to those four provinces has been banned,” they said.

However, special “harvest commissions,” under the supervision of the district governors, will be set up to ensure that the tea harvest is not interrupted this year.

The muhtars (village heads) and non-governmental organizations will also be a part of the commissions.

Some 20 percent of tea growers will not be able to oversee the harvest work this year due to the restrictions, according to the authorities.

As part of the measures designed to ensure an uninterrupted harvest season, seasonal workers will be brought in from the eastern provinces of Kars, Ardahan, Erzurum and Bayburt.

There is no restriction for agricultural workers who reside in the cities neighboring Rize, Artvin, Trabzon and Giresun.