Covid-19 in Bulgaria on April 7: Roundup

Written by on April 7, 2020 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Covid-19 in Bulgaria on April 7: Roundup

The vote by the National Assembly of amendments to the State of Emergency Measures Act on April 6 has left the country’s Chief State Health Inspector, Associate Professor Angel Kunchev – a member of the operational headquarters against Covid-19 – without a salary.

Originally drafted to donate the salaries of MPs to the fight against Covid-19, the text was amended to include the Prime Minister, all members of the Cabinet and their political cabinets. Kunchev is a member of the Health Minister’s political cabinet.

Operational HQ chief Major-General Mutafchiyski said that he and Kunchev’s other colleagues would donate part of their salaries so that the Chief Health Inspector could get paid.

Major retail chains in Bulgaria issued a lengthy objection to a draft government decree requiring them to sell Bulgarian food in at least half the area of their shops. The Modern Trade Association, which includes Avanti, Billa Bulgaria, DM Bulgaria, Kaufland and Lidl Bulgaria among its members, rejected the proposal as against the fundamental principles of a market economy and said that if it went ahead, they would object at EU level.

A large group of taxi drivers from various companies parked their cars outside Alexander Nevsky cathedral, demanding government help as their business has been hard-hit by a sharp decline in the number of customers. They called for state aid of 1000 leva each, freezing of lease payments, and halving of the fee for using the system through which they get addresses and get police assistance in problems created by clients.

About 20 people – cooks, restaurateurs, bartenders and waiters, gathered for an impromptu protest outside the Cabinet office. With restaurants, bars and coffee shops ordered closed, most of the group of protesters were people who had been sent on unpaid leave or fired.

The Bulgarian Association for Alternative Tourism (BAAT) has proposed emergency measures for the preservation of small and medium-sized businesses, which it sent to Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova.

BAAT said that the 60/40 system of government support for employees’ incomes is inapplicable to the tourism industry and different measures are needed.

The association is seeking, among other steps, a moratorium on social insurance payments for the duration of the State of Emergency and six months beyond it, one-off financial aid to cover refusals of repayments, deferral of mandatory tour operators liability insurance, and payment of a lump sum up to 2000 leva for tour guides and mountain guides left jobless.

A campaign called #PRAYATHOME was launched on April 7 by socialist Bulgarian MEP Tsvetelina Penkova, to encourage people not to gather at churches during the Easter season. Bulgarian National Television said that the campaign was aimed at Bulgarian citizens and all European citizens who will celebrate the different Easters, on April 12 for Protestants and Roman Catholics and April 19 for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva have both sent messages on Twitter to UK PM Boris Johnson, who is in hospital with Covid-19, wishing him a speedy recovery. Zaharieva and Johnson were counterparts when he was the British Foreign Secretary.

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