Bulgaria’s PM: Open-air spaces in restaurants may re-open, after checks by health officials

The open-air terraces and gardens of restaurants will be allowed to re-open following inspections by regional health inspectorates and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency based on set written guidelines, such as physical distancing, it was announced at a briefing on May 3.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, accompanied by the leadership of the operational headquarters against Covid-19 as well as several members of the Cabinet, addressed the briefing on plans to ease various restrictive measures against the spread of the illness.

Borissov said that “very clear rules” would be needed “whether it is four people per 10 square metres, or one family at a table, it will be further described so that people can comply with it”.

Where physical distancing would not be possible, establishments would not be allowed to re-open, he said.

Operational HQ chief Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski said that physical distancing would have to be respected and personnel would have to use protective equipment.

First and foremost was customer and staff security, he said.

Bulgaria’s Chief State Health Inspector Associate Professor Angel Kunchev said that there would be a document with rules on the basis of which regional health inspectorate officials and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency would pronounce an opinion about whether an establishment could re-open.

At the briefing, it was announced that as of May 4, individual outdoor sports will be allowed but not competitions. “They can play tennis, run on a stadium track, run in the park,” Borissov said.

Allowing swimming pools to open is being considered, because disinfectant is used to maintain the pools.

Bulgaria’s government and the operational HQ have not reached agreement on whether to allow kindergartens and nurseries to re-open.

Driving schools will be allowed to re-open from May 4. Those in cars used for driving lessons must wear masks and there must be regular disinfection of the vehicles between lessons, the briefing was told.

Borissov said that after the afternoon of the May 6 St George’s Day public holiday, the checkpoints controlling intercity travel would be removed. “We unanimously believe that the checkpoints played a very important role,” he said.

He said that on Monday, a draft bill regarding the lifting of the State of Emergency – voted by Parliament on March 13 and later extended until May 13 – would be ready.

Some measures, such as the 60:40 scheme of state assistance for businesses, social assistance measures, banking measures and anti-epidemic measures would remain in place. “A lot of things will remain after May 13,” Borissov said.

(Archive photo from 2012 of a restaurant at the Drama Theatre in Plovdiv: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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