Coronavirus has cost 'two million jobs', Turkish opposition says

Coronavirus has cost 'two million jobs', Turkish opposition says
Coronavirus is making a dent in the Turkish economy, as two million people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
2 min read
03 April, 2020
Millions have lost their jobs [Getty]

More than two million workers in Turkey have lost their jobs as a result of measures used to halt the spread of coronavirus, the main opposition party said on Friday.

President Tayyip Erdogan’s government has ordered retailers, restaurants and other businesses to close but has yet to impose a full lockdown anywhere in the country.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Friday once more called for broader restrictions on residents’ movements.

Currently, only those who are over the age of 65 have been told to lockdown and practise social distancing by remaining in their homes.

“They (the government) had to start a campaign to keep people home. This current campaign has only led to one thing: unemployment,” he told Fox TV in an interview, saying more than two million jobs had been lost during the epidemic.

The coronavirus has killed more than 350 in Turkey, with confirmed cases topping 18,000.

This comes as Istanbul became the “epicentre” of the outbreak, with around 60 percent of nationwide cases concentrated in the capital.

Erdogan has warned of tougher restrictions if the outbreak worsens or if citizens fail to adhere to a “voluntary quarantine” he has demanded nationwide.

A Turkish official with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday that Ankara was evaluating further measures, including expanding the existing lockdown - under which essential trips are permitted - to those aged 60 and over and possibly also to under-18s.

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“The wheels need to keep turning for the economy to not be damaged, but it is now becoming mandatory for some restrictions to be imposed,” the official said.

Whilst new measures were being debated for Istanbul, the current pace of the spread could be “considerably problematic” for the country.

Meral Aksener, chairwoman of the opposition Iyi Party, said in an online interview on Friday that the government was “running” from a stay-at-home order due to its economic implications.

The CHP’s Kilicdaroglu said on Friday that around 400,000 businesses had closed and many workers paid wages on a daily basis had also been laid off since the current coronavirus curbs began.

“The number of those who worked there and are now unemployed exceeds 2 million. They will get unemployment wages from the unemployment fund for a short time, but there are no guarantees after that,” he said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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