A ban on charter flights from Russia to Turkey is being introduced from April 15, the operational headquarters for combating the spread of coronavirus said. Officially, the reason for the ban was a bad epidemiological situation in the country: in recent days in Turkey more than 50,000 new cases of coronavirus per day are detected.
Only regular flights between Moscow and Istanbul remain.
Rospotrebnadzor also included Turkey among the countries not recommended for visit by Russian citizens. According to the Tourdom portal, this decision allows tourists who have paid for travel to Turkey to be entitled to a 100 percent refund if they do not agree with the alternatives that tour operators will be able to offer.
Turkey was closed to foreign tourists from April to June 2020. Direct air service with Russia opened in August. According to official statistics from the website of the World Health Organization, the first wave of morbidity in the spring of 2020 was calm: about 4,000 cases were registered in Turkey per day. The jump in the increase in the incidence occurred in late November – early December: then in the country registered more than 30,000 cases per day. But for Russian tourists the country was open.
In mid-March 2021, a new outbreak began in the country, the incidence went up sharply: if in mid-March 10-15 thousand cases were detected per day, by the beginning of April – already about 40,000. On 9 April, a record 55,900 cases were reported in the country, according to who is WHO.
At the end of March, the Turkish President announced the resumption of restrictive measures for the period that coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan – in 2021 it begins on April 12 and ends on May 12. During this period, all cafes and restaurants will work only for takeaway and delivery. A weekend curfew is also imposed across the country – but it does not apply to tourists, according to ATOR.
China and Iran banned their citizens from flying to Turkey last week amid rising rates of disease.
How did the Russians fly to Turkey before the ban?
Russian tourists became the most numerous in Turkey in 2020 – from January to December 2.1 million travelers from Russia came to the country. The share of the Russian market in the foreign tourist flow amounted to 16.7% – such data was cited by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism (they were quoted by Interfax).
Before the ban – in 2019 – more than 7 million Russians visited Turkey. The total number of foreign tourists who came to Turkey decreased in 2020.
To enter Turkey now you need to fill out an online form in English – it must be done no more than 72 hours before the border. The questionnaire is needed to form a special HES code – it can be required, for example, at the entrance to the transport. The completed questionnaire is recommended to print or keep electronically.
Also, all adult passengers at check-in need to have a certificate with a negative result of the test for the covid, which is made no more than 72 hours before arrival in Turkey.
The recommended form of the document, according to ATOR, is a paper certificate in English with a blue seal. You can get such a test in accredited laboratories, the list of which was cited by The Russian Consumer Watchdog.
There are currently 25-30 thousand Russians in Turkey, RIA Novosti reported on Monday, citing sources in Turkey’s tourism industry. The Russian authorities plan to organize export flights for them.
Rumors of a ban
Rumors that a ban could be imposed emerged last week.
On April 9, a meeting of the operational headquarters was held, where, according to sources of several media, a decision was to be made to stop flights to Turkey. As a result, the ban was not imposed at that meeting.
On the same day, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin held a meeting on the production and treatment of coronavirus vaccines. There he mentioned that in the last week a new wave of cases is growing in 30 countries in Europe and other countries.
On April 6, at a meeting of the coordinating council of the government to fight the coronavirus, the head of the Russian Consumer Watchdog Anna Popova said that Turkey has recorded a sharp complication of the epidemiological situation: since mid-March, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of new coronavirus infection by more than 40%.
On 22 December last year, due to the emergence of a new strain of coronavirus in Britain, Russia closed its air service to that country. However, flights with transfers and part of cargo-passenger flights between the countries remained available. The ban has been extended several times and is now in effect until April 16. On December 25, Rospotrebnadzor imposed a two-week quarantine for citizens arriving in Russia from Britain.
Earlier, Anna Popova stated that coronavirus is detected in 1% of Russians who have returned from abroad.
On the evening of April 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Turkish President spoke by phone. According to the Kremlin’s website, they discussed in detail “issues of combating the spread of coronavirus infection.” In the same conversation, the leaders of the countries discussed “Russian approaches to resolving the internal Ukrainian crisis.”
The conversation took place on the eve of the visit of Ukrainian President Vladimir Selensky to Istanbul. After him, in particular, Erdogan once again confirmed that Turkey does not intend to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, but supports the solution of the current crisis peacefully.
Turkey has become the most popular foreign country among Russian tourists in 2020. According to ATOR, Turkey accounted for 39.1% of all trips of Russians to all countries abroad in 2020, and this is a historical record (in 2019 this share was 31.3%).