Covid-19: Bulgaria Health Minister bans car traffic in and out of Sofia

Bulgaria Health Minister Kiril Ananiev said late on April 16 that he had ordered a halt to all car traffic in and out of capital city Sofia effective midnight on April 17, which will remain in place until further notice.

The recommendation was made by the Covid-19 national operational headquarters and approved by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov. It was prompted by the large queues of cars that formed at the exits from Sofia on April 15 and April 16.

In spite of repeated entreaties for people not to embark on intercity travel during the four-day weekend – Bulgaria will celebrate Orthodox Easter on April 19 – a large number of people attempted to exit the city. Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said that about 5000 cars had been stopped from exiting the city on April 16 alone.

People who managed to exit the city would face increased scrutiny upon return and would be subject to fines if they were found to have provided false information to exit the city, Marinov said.

Ananiev said that the ban will apply only to cars and intercity buses – cargo traffic will be exempt, as will vehicles with people travelling for medical treatment, emergency crews of utility companies, internet and TV service providers.

Travel by car for work will be restricted to two time intervals during the day, set at 6am-8am and 6pm-8pm.

Marinov said that traffic within Sofia was not being restricted at this time. He said that there were no plans to put in place similar restrictions for other large cities in Bulgaria because the traffic increase was not on the same scale as in Sofia.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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