More than two thousand people opposed new COVID-19 protocols on Sept. 11.

The dramatic protest came after the Turkish government demanded all residents to either show proof of full vaccination, or a recent negative COVID-19 test result, before using public transport and attending major events.

Masks and social distancing are mandatory in publicly owned buildings. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are compulsory twice a week for all unvaccinated school employees.

The measures displeased many who joined the government-approved demonstration in Istanbul’s Maltepe Asian district.

“This pandemic is just going on with even more restrictions on our freedoms and there is no end to it,” software developer Erdem Boz said according to Reuters. “Masks, vaccines, PCR tests might all become mandatory. We are here to voice our discontent with this.”

“We are against all these mandates,” anti-protocol Plandemic Resistance Movement supporter Aynur Buyruk Bilen said according to the newswire agency. “I think that the vaccines are not complete, and that it is an experimental liquid.”

Many others could be seen maskless, shouting slogans, and waving banners plus Turkish flags. Some of them sang about defending civil rights.

Protesters were allowed to skip showing proof of vaccination and negative test results. Police did not try to intervene in the demonstration.

Turkey has fully vaccinated 64% of the population. The Middle Eastern country reported nearly 23,000 new cases per day.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca (I) blamed the spike in infections on those who are not immunized, declaring a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

“90% of COVID-19 patients have the Delta variant,” he said according to the Daily Sabah. “That is why we need to adhere to hygiene and social distancing until we achieve herd immunity.”

Only 10% of fully vaccinated patients have sought medical treatment and nearly 90% of active cases in hospitals include the non immunized or those who had one dose.

“Vaccines are the final solution, rules are very necessary,” Koca said on Twitter.

This latest COVID-19 wave in Turkey is not as dramatic as the April peak during which more than 60,000 new infections were recorded within days, according to the Worldometer website. The country recorded a total of 59,643 fatalities among 6,636,899 infected patients.

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