Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Roundup, April 10 – from bank loans to churches

Bulgarian National Bank said on April 10 that it has approved the measures proposed by commercial lenders for a private moratorium on loan repayments, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The moratorium will allow to delay loan repayment without changing key criteria, such as the interest rate, the central bank said.

The lenders will be able to apply three standardised mechanisms – one to postpone payment of the loan principal by six months, one to postpone payment of the loan principal and interest by six months, and a third mechanism applying to revolving products, BNB said. Which exact mechanism will be used must be mutually agreed by the lender and the customer.

Only performing loans, that is to say those that were serviced on schedule or had a delay of less than 90 days, will be subject to the moratorium. Any repayment can be delayed by no more than six months and that period must expire no later than December 31 2020, the central bank said. Although banks can agree other individual payment postponement measures with their customers outside those three mechanisms, such cases would fall outside the scope of the moratorium and the loans in question could be subject to reclassification, BNB said.

The national operational headquarters said in an evening update on April 10 that there were 635 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria, with the number having risen by 11 in the course of the day.

The death toll was now 25, following the death of a 44-year-old women at the regional hospital in Sliven. She had undergone haemodialysis treatment for the past nine years, and had chronic renal failure, hypertension and anaemia.

A total of 231 people are in hospital, according to the update.

At a briefing on Friday afternoon, it was announced that all police leave had been cancelled as the Interior Ministry prepared to deal with the situation during the coming Orthodox Easter holidays.

With the Bulgarian Orthodox Church keeping its churches open, police will be deployed to the 4000 houses of worship to ensure public order outside them. The church has said that it will conduct its Easter week services outside churches, not inside, and people who wish to enter must be wearing masks.

The briefing was told that checkpoints controlling intercity travel, to ensure restrictions are kept to, would be operating as normal, with the exception that during the Easter public holidays, travelling for work would not be accepted as a legitimate reason.

Sofia municipality said, in a separate statement, that on April 11, before the Orthodox Palm Sunday, and on April 17, before Easter, the squares surrounding churches in the Bulgarian capital city would be disinfected.

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova has written to Bulgarian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Neofit and the Holy Synod with instructions regarding the measures to be taken during the Easter holidays in connect with the State of Emergency declared to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Fandukova recommended enhanced disinfection in churches of icons, candlesticks and other worship items, as well as the use of personal protective equipment by clergy and church officials.

The Prosecutor’s Office confirmed on April 10 that the head of the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union, Professor Assen Stoimenova, was being prosecuted in connection with comments she made in media interviews.

Stoimenova is being prosecuted for making, in media interviews, what the prosecutors’ statement called “unsubstantiated allegations about an expected lack of medications”.

Charged until an article of the Criminal Code that makes it illegal to spread alarmism, Stoimenova is out on bail of 20 000 leva (about 10 000 euro). In a Facebook post, she denied wrongdoing.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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