Covid-19: Bulgaria fines people for breaking ban on visiting parks, Bourgas removes benches

Fines have been issued in Bulgaria’s cities of Sofia and Varna for people visiting parks in violation of the ban, while in the southern Black Sea city of Bourgas, mayor Dimitar Nikolov ordered the removal of benches from two public parks.

The ban on visiting parks, public gardens, sports grounds and other outdoor and indoor public places was ordered by Health Minister Kiril Ananiev as of March 21 as a measure against the spread of Covid-19. People are allowed into parks only if walking their dogs, and then may do so only individually, not in groups.

Bulgarian National Television reported on March 29 that in Sofia, four fines had been issued, according to municipal police. Two were for visiting South Park and two for a hike on Vitosha mountain.

The report said that people found in the park claimed that either they were on their way to a shop or to a nearby pharmacy. Most were wearing protective masks.

Some of those walking in South Park on Sunday said that they had no idea that there was a ban, did not watch TV or read other news media, and did not think that they were violating quarantine.

The report quoted Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry press centre as saying that it did not have accurate information about the number of people fined for visiting parks in Sofia, but said that police were constantly patrolling parks and public gardens and warning people to leave.

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova, in a post on Facebook on March 29, said that because of the good weather, many people in the city had gone for walks on Saturday and Sunday. “I understand the desire, but we cannot afford it,” she said.

The fine for breaking the ban was 5000 leva (about 2500 euro), she said. But obeying the ban was not a matter of money, but of “the people you love and so that in the future we will be together again on the streets, in the parks, in the cafes”.

She quoted national crisis staff chief Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski, who had said that the hardest times were yet to come. “Don’t take that as a threat, but as the reality we face,” Fandukova said.

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova joined volunteers delivering food and medicines to the homes of the elderly in Sofia who had requested assistance. Photo from Fandukova’s Facebook page.

Nova Televizia reported from Varna on March 29 that after fines of 5000 leva each were issued, the Black Sea city’s Sea Garden was deserted.

After numerous photographs in recent days on social networks of people violating the ban on visiting parks and gardens, Varna municipal police fined 23 offenders in the Sea Garden at the end of the week.

Police said that most of those warned to leave the Sea Garden had done so. However, a small number had refused, and had been fined.

On March 29, benches in Bourgas’s Izgrev skate park and Ezero park were dismantled and removed, the municipality’s website said.

Photo: Bourgas municipality

Police and gendarmerie were continuing to control checkpoints, parks and all locations where people gather, the municipality said.

Starting from March 30, between 8.30am and 10.30am, masks will be given to senior citizens who arrive at the 14 large shops in Bourgas of Kaufland, Billa and Lidl, if they arrive without masks. One per person will be issued. There is a current stock of 5000 masks, which will be replenished when new donations or supplies from the national operational headquarters arrive.

Bourgas municipality has erected a barrier to block the entrance of the Minerali Bani park, after crowds of people were seen there in recent days, the municipality’s statement said.

Bourgas mayor Nikolov has ordered the cleaning company to draw up an emergency scheduled for washing and disinfection of container sites.

Starting next week, teams of volunteers will be involved in the daily disinfection of buses in public transport.

In Plovdiv, almost all of the 4100 large mixed-waste refuse bins in the streets have been disinfected in the past 20 days and in some parts of the city disinfection of the bins is being repeated.

Photo via Plovdiv news website

The process began in Plovdiv on March 10, as a step against Covid-19. In previous years, cleaning of big street bins began in May and continued until the end of October.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

(Main photo: Bourgas municipality)



The Sofia Globe staff

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