Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Roundup, April 12 – From shared spoons to the euro zone

April 12 saw the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria rise by six to a total of 675, and the death toll among those who had tested positive for the virus rise to 29.

April 12 also was Palm Sunday for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, with clergy in Sofia and Bourgas serving communion to lay people using shared spoons, according to media reports.

Bulgarian National Radio reported that at the service in the landmark Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia, presided over by Patriarch Neofit, the public were admitted only if they were wearing face masks (the wearing of which in public places is in any case compulsory as of April 12).

But once inside, they were served communion from a shared spoon. A separate report said that the same thing happened at Sveta Nedelya church in Sofia, and at the Church of the Holy Virgin in the Black Sea city of Bourgas.

At previous meetings with government representatives, including with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, the church’s leadership undertook that its measures would include using several different spoons at churches to serve communion.

While public places of entertainment are closed and other faiths are solely streaming their services online or have shut their houses of worship altogether, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is keeping its churches open, while implementing disinfection and with some of the church’s leadership calling on the public to stay at home instead of going to church. The government has declined to intervene to order the churches shut as a step against the spread of Covid-19.

On April 12, Borissov, visiting an enterprise in Tvarditsa, repeated his message that he wants Bulgaria to enter the euro zone waiting room “to have access to fresh money” to help business cope with the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.

The European Central Bank has made provision for assistance to cope with the economic fallout from Covid-19, but the assistance is targeted mainly at countries in the euro zone. Borissov is concerned that remaining outside the euro zone, Bulgaria would have to borrow at high interest rates.

Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov, in an interview with Bulgarian National Radio on April 12, said that a grant from the EU was forthcoming that would target even the smallest businesses.

Karanikolov said that everything must be co-ordinated between the state, employers and employees, and that the hotel and restaurant sectors would recover when salaried Bulgarians decide that they will be able to devote money to going to a restaurant and on holiday.

The Customs Agency said on April 12 that an attempt at customs fraud had been uncovered by its officials.

It said that on April 8, customs officers inspecting a consignment of air cargo declared to be 2800 bandanna scarves found that in fact it contained the same number of reusable face masks. The goods had been confiscated because of the inaccurate declaration, which was a violation of customs law, the agency said.

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(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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