Covid-19 in Bulgaria, May 18: Gyms among latest to demand state aid

As shopping malls and gyms in Bulgaria were allowed to re-open on May 18, after months of being closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Bulgarian Health and Fitness Association became the latest body to demand state aid for the sector.

“We want a reduction in VAT from 20 per cent to nine per cent, we also want a grant for the entire industry, to the amount of one month’s average income from the declared income for 2018,” Peter Angelov, chairman of the Bulgarian Health and Fitness Association, said.

The government has said that it would cut VAT on hospitality industry services such as restaurants, as well as on books, to nine per cent later this year as a step against the economic fallout from Covid-19.

The gym industry will ask for a meeting with the finance minister and the prime minister to explain their arguments, Bulgarian National Television said.

Tourist bus drivers are joining a protest in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Bourgas on May 19 to demand support from the state.

Carriers want interest-free loans for working capital, deferral of amounts due to the budget after March 13 and grants of 50 000 leva.

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) has ruled to strike down a Health Ministry order from March 26, which made a number of previous orders listing anti-epidemic measures subject to provisional enforcement if challenged in court.

The SAC three-judge panel said that the Health Minister did not have the power to order provisional enforcement of his decrees, as that matter was settled in existing legislation. The ruling is not final and can be appealed to a five-judge panel of the SAC.

After Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that kindergartens would re-open by May 24, teachers and support staff expressed sharp opposition to the move in an online petition, Bulgarian National Radio reported on May 18.

The petition, which had close to 1000 signatures by the afternoon of May 18, demands that kindergartens remain closed until September 15.

Those behind the petition described as unfair the decision to open daycare centres based on parents’ opinions, without taking into account the views of those working in these establishments.

In the municipality of Yambol, the quarantine of the Roma neighbourhood of the town has been extended until May 20, following a decision by the municipal crisis staff.

Media reports on May 18 said that there were tensions as the Roma community were angry about the continued lockdown, especially because there had been no confirmed case in the neighbourhood in the past four days.

Regional governor Dimitar Ivanov said that on a sample basis, contact people in the neighbourhood would be tested over the next three days, until Thursday, BNR reported.

More than two-thirds of residents of Plovdiv invited to participate in large-scale testing for Covid-19 had so far given their consent to be tested, the regional health inspectorate in the city said.

The large-scale testing started last week and is aimed to cover 400 households from all six precincts of Plovdiv, chosen at random.

As part of the representative study, it is planned to examine 200 medics from six Plovdiv hospitals.

(Archive photo: Military Medical Academy)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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