With more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases and upward of 11,000 deaths already logged in Turkey, the country isn't messing around when it comes to its latest numbers surge. Per Bloomberg, nearly 2,700 new cases were IDed on Wednesday—the highest daily count since the end of April, according to the Health Ministry's stats—and government critics say that number is likely a conservative one, as Ankara only counts people who show symptoms. Now, one group in Turkey will bear the brunt of the latest restriction: a ban on smoking in crowded public areas, such as on busy streets, in public squares, and at bus stops, Reuters reports. The ban, which starts Thursday, was put into place because the country is trying to convince people to keep on their masks. The Interior Ministry says smokers have been seen lowering their masks when lighting up.
In addition to the risk that smoking can pose via people pulling down their face coverings to take a puff, health experts also note that smokers may have a worse time of it than nonsmokers if they actually get COVID-19, as both smoking and the illness can cause serious damage to the lungs and heart, per the Hill. In some big cities in Turkey, including Istanbul and Ankara, there are also further steps being taken to protect seniors, including a new curfew that mandates people 65 and older have to stay inside between 10am and 4pm. In addition, businesses throughout the country, including restaurants, pools, and movie theaters, will now have a 10pm shutdown time. (Read more Turkey stories.)