290 fined in Bulgaria’s Sofia this past weekend for breaching emergency regulations

More than 500 people have been fined in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia in the first month of the State of Emergency for breaching regulations against the spread of coronavirus, 290 of them this past weekend alone, the city’s chief of police said in a television interview on April 13.

Of those fined this past weekend, 90 were for failing to comply with the Health Minister’s order making wearing a protective mask or other facial covering in public places, Senior Commissioner Georgi Hadzhiev said.

State of Emergency regulations include a ban on visiting public parks and gardens, among other indoor and outdoor public places. Initially, the fine for breaching the regulations was 5000 leva (about 2500 euro) but Parliament voted on April 3 to reduce this to 300 leva for a first offence.

“We hope that regarding the coming Easter holidays, people will realise that they need to stay at home,” Hadzhiev said.

In the Bulgarian Orthodox Church calendar, April 12 was Palm Sunday and April 19 is Easter Sunday. The church is keeping its houses of worship open.

Hadzhiev said that this past Saturday, people had not been very disciplined, but on Sunday, the situation was completely different.

He said that the Sofia regional directorate of the Interior Ministry was committed to maintaining public order around the churches. Organisation inside the churches is up to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, while police will act if requested to do so by the clergy.

There will be an increased police presence in the areas near the churches and people will be warned to comply with the anti-epidemic measures, Hadzhiev said.

In other developments on the morning on April 13, the Bulgarian government said that on the initiative of two private companies, 32 tons of food – vegetables, meat and dairy products – had been sent on Sunday to the United Arab Emirates, and in return, Bulgaria was receiving 15 tons of medical supplies, including protective equipments, masks and gloves.

The private companies had paid for the transport and the transaction had cost taxpayers nothing, the statement said.

The main shopping street in central Plovdiv on April 12. Photos: Lance Nelson of appfactory.bg

The national operational headquarters said on the morning of April 13 that the death toll from Covid-19 was now 31, while 71 patients had recovered.

A total of 230 people are in hospital, 36 of them in intensive care.

In all, to date there were 676 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria, the operational HQ said.

(Archive photo of Zaimov Park in Sofia: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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