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COVID-19 pandemic turns summer residences into winter abodes in Turkey

COVID-19 pandemic turns summer residences into winter abodes in Turkey

Spending the summer in a house with a courtyard, a view of the sea or in the lush countryside is the dream of millions confined to the hubbub of big city life. With the coronavirus pandemic taking its toll on Turkey, summer residences offer a perfect getaway to escape the crowds in cities. Many popular resort towns, which have been almost deserted during the winter, have seen an unprecedented boom in population with people reluctant to return home.

Silivri, a far-flung district of Istanbul better known as one of the rare agricultural hubs of this city of industry and finance, is one of those popular spots. Dotted with summer homes and with its proximity to central, more populated areas of Istanbul where summer house owners reside, the district welcomes winter with a crowded population. Instead of a shorter commute to work, residents opt for a longer travel time, rather than risking themselves amid the crowds of Istanbul.

Yaşar Köse, the headman of Beyciler, a village some 32 kilometers (20 miles) away from central Silivri, said the population has swelled during the pandemic. “Most people are commuters. Their children, extended families permanently stay here. As schools were closed, more people came to live here,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Sunday. Mazlum Güçlü, headman of Gümüşyaka, one of the most popular summer residence destinations in Silivri, says school closures made more people extend their stay in the district. “People only leave for their homes in Istanbul for work or some chores and return in the evening. Our population is normally some 9,000 people, but it is now around 20,000,” he said.

Cumhur Sağıroğlu is one of the thousands of people who took shelter in Silivri, at his summer home. He arrived in May and has yet to return to his home in Esenyurt district on the city’s European side. Sağıroğlu stays in Silivri with his wife and grandchildren and spends his days tending the small garden in front of his house. “Many people in my neighborhood in Esenyurt were infected with COVID-19, so I decided to stay here,” he said.

Ahmet Sönmez recently bought 2 acres of land in Silivri and started sowing crops. “I came here after the outbreak started. We cannot go out as much as we wish back in Istanbul, and we were very bored. Here, I can spend my time working, far from the pandemic,” he said.