Bulgaria’s Labour Minister: 40 000 registered as unemployed since Covid-19 crisis began

About 40 000 people have registered as unemployed since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Bulgaria’s Labour and Social Policy Minister Denitsa Sacheva said in a television interview on April 5.

She said that the increase in unemployment was not only because of the coronavirus, but also because large numbers of Bulgarians had returned from abroad.

Unemployment was expected to rise by two per cent compared with the beginning of the year.

The ministry would open additional labour bureau offices, she said.

She defended the 60/40 system, whereby the state will cover 60 per cent of the salaries of employees in businesses in sectors affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The system has been sharply criticised by a number of employers’ associations.

The system had been in effect since the afternoon of March 31, and since then 344 applications had been submitted, involving about 4500 employees.

“It is too early to say whether something needs to change and what exactly. This is an emergency measure and it is limited. Other measures are also being worked on, because after the end of the State of Emergency, businesses will need new opportunities to get up on their feet quickly,” she said.

On the morning of April 5, the national operational headquarters said that there were 522 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria. This is an increase of 19 compared with the figure for the morning of April 4.

The total of 522 includes 18 who have died and 37 who have recovered. A total of 192 people are in hospital, 26 of them in intensive care.

The oldest patient is 86 and the youngest one year old.

Data on the website of Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, showed that on April 3, air traffic in Bulgaria was down by more than 70 per cent compared with a year earlier.

On April 4, across the Eurocontrol network, there were 2565 flights, 90 per cent fewer than last year.

Bulgaria’s Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov, interviewed by Bulgarian National Radio on April 5, said that the huge decline in air traffic constantly raised concern about how aviation would recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Ticket sales on Bulgaria’s railways were down by 50 per cent, he said. Zhelyazkov said that the government was committed to not cutting train schedules, to keep an essential service going.

The Ministry of Justice said that Bulgaria had formally notified the Council of Europe of the State of Emergency declared on March 13. It said that the temporary restrictions on some rights of people in Bulgaria would last only until the end of the State of Emergency.

The Medical Expert Council at the Cabinet office has disbanded, its head Professor Kosta Kostov told Bulgarian National Television on April 4. The establishment of the council had been announced on March 22.

Kostov said that the reason was that the council had accomplished its tasks given to it by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.

The medics on the council were returning to their duty to treat patients. While disbanding, the council would continue as an informal group adding to and updating its report to the Prime Minister, Kostov said.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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