Qurban Bayram, or Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, is one of the busiest holidays in Turkey. But like everything else, the coronavirus pandemic has scaled it back. The government is not considering imposing a curfew for the four-day holiday, which will begin on July 31. Nevertheless, experts urge the public to proceed with extreme caution during the holiday, which usually sees mass movement of people going to vacation resorts and hometowns and clusters of people gathered to slaughter sacrificial animals.
Professor Mustafa Necmi Ilhan, a member of the Health Ministry’s Social Sciences Board responsible for tackling the social impact of the pandemic, has called on people to avoid visits to families and relatives, a staple of the holiday. The elderly often complain that their children and grandchildren prefer exchanging bayram greetings over the phone instead of visiting them but with the outbreak lingering, they may have to agree with Ilhan’s advice. Ilhan told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday that the public should go online instead of making in-person visits to limit the risk of infection. Certainly, the population will be freer than they were during the previous Muslim holiday, Ramadan Bayram, also known as Eid al-Fitr, which was marked in May under a curfew. Yet, the need to follow the rules prevails.
Authorities and experts have repeatedly called on the nation to wear face masks as protection. It has also asked the public to maintain social distancing in crowded spaces or keep at least 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) away from each other, as well as paying attention to personal hygiene. The same rules apply during the holiday too. Ilhan said that in the absence of a vaccine, the only solution to avoid infection is to follow the current rules of protection. “Crowded areas aggravate the number of cases, and people should be careful during the upcoming bayram. You don’t need to take extra measures but should stick to wearing a mask, social distancing and hygiene rules, as you should do now,” he said.
Ilhan called on the public to avoid visits during the holiday. “Certainly, it cannot replace face-to-face meeting with your loved ones, but you should prefer online greetings instead of visiting each other’s homes,” he said. If you have to visit, you should have only one other person at the home you visit, he added. “Hosts, if they accept guests, should not accept a new guest when they are already hosting one. You should keep visits short and be careful about social distancing in the house you visit,” he noted.