Smoking in public areas across Turkey is banned as of Thursday to slow down the surge in the COVID-19 daily cases, the Interior Ministry announced.
 
"Smoking will be prohibited with immediate effect in areas such as avenues and streets (especially those closed to traffic), necessary public squares, and public transportation stops," the ministry said in a notice issued on Wednesday evening.
 
The ban was aimed to prevent citizens from wearing their masks under the chin while smoking outside in crowded areas, it added.
 
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also urged citizens to protect themselves from the contamination of the coronavirus by wearing masks and following social distancing rules.
 
Meanwhile, multiple provinces, including Turkey's most populous city Istanbul and the western Izmir, tightened the lockdown on citizens aged 65 and over on Thursday, allowing them to go out only between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

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