ISTANBUL: The Turkish association of shopping centers said on Thursday it was recommending that malls close due to the spread of the coronavirus after President Tayyip Erdogan advised Turks not to leave home for three weeks unless necessary.
The association said in a statement that it was awaiting instructions from Turkish authorities after making its recommendation. Overnight a range of clothing retailers had announced that they were closing their shops. A range of Turkish clothing retailers earlier said they were temporarily shutting stores from Thursday in response to the spread of the coronavirus.
Turkey announced a second death and said cases of the highly contagious respiratory illness had nearly doubled to 191, as it ramps up steps to rein in the virus, closing cafes, banning mass prayers and halting flights to 20 countries.
On Wednesday Erdogan called on people to minimize social contact until the virus threat recedes, but he did not tell them to stay away from work as he announced a 100-billion lira ($15.40 billion) economic support package.
Retailers including Mavi Giyim and Vakko Tekstil, listed on the Istanbul stock exchange, said they were closing their retail stores.
“Our first and foremost priority is the health and safety of our employees and our consumers globally,” Mavi said as it announced the closure of stores in Turkey, Germany and Canada, adding that its online stores would remain open.
Luxury goods chain Vakko said it was also temporarily halting production activities as well as shutting stores. Other retailers who announced store closures included Boyner, Ipekyol and Marks & Spencer stores in Turkey, operated by Fiba Retail.
After meeting ministers and business leaders, Erdogan said on Wednesday Turkey would postpone debt payments and reduce the tax burden on some sectors in a package of measures to support the economy, but called on people to limit their movements.
“None of our citizens must leave their homes or get into contact with anyone, unless absolutely necessary, until the threat disappears,” Erdogan said.
“Our citizens who are going to their offices should directly return to their homes at the end of the business day,” he said.
Among specific measures, he said Turkey’s tourism accommodation tax was being suspended until November to support the key tourism sector, which accounts for some 12 percent of the economy. Debt repayments of companies affected by the coronavirus will be postponed for a minimum of three months.
Turkey has already suspended mass prayer in mosques, temporarily closed cafes, sports and entertainment venues, as well as extended a flight ban to 20 countries, including major European destinations.
On Tuesday, Turkey’s central bank cut its key interest rate by 100 basis points at an earlier-than-scheduled policy meeting, and acted to support volatile financial markets.