The queue of cars waiting to pass the Kulata-Promachonas border checkpoint from Bulgaria into Greece was 10km long, Bulgarian National Radio reported in the early afternoon on July 3, citing the Border Police.
The delay was mainly because of intensified inspections by Greek health authorities, who are conducting mass testing for new coronavirus, BNR said.
The flow of tourists heading to Greece intensified early in the day, with Bulgarian media reports from the border saying that at about 8am, the queue was 12km long.
Most of the cars were from Romania, as well as from Serbia and Bulgaria. Serbian citizens may enter Greece only via Bulgaria, as Greece has closed its border with North Macedonia to tourists.
Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry called on tourists to use the Makaza, Ivailovgrad and Kapitan Petko Voyvoda checkpoints. These remain open for now but will close on July 6, although Greek citizens, Bulgarian workers with the relevant documents, as well as property owners will be allowed through.
BNR said that the enhanced health controls by Greece involved testing not only non-EU nationals but also those from EU member states.
Greece has put in place a protocol that requires all foreign arrivals to complete mandatory passenger location forms starting July 1. From July 6, tourists travelling from Bulgaria to Greece will be allowed to use only the Kulata-Promachonas border checkpoint and must be in possession of a QR code.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said on July 3 that Deputy Foreign Minister Petko Doikov had raised the issue of opening the checkpoints at the Bulgarian-Greek border at a meeting with Greek ambassador in Sofia Dimitrios Chronopoulos.
Doikov emphasised the difficult situation at Kulata-Promachonas, the long queues that formed, which were causing great inconvenience to people, the statement said.
Bulgaria also raised the issue of creating separate corridors at the border for citizens of the European Union and for third countries, in order to speed up crossings.
Chronopoulos expressed regret over the situation and explained that the new rules for entering Greece apply to all citizens, regardless of their nationality, and aim to control the new coronavirus situation after the country’s opening to foreign tourists.
He undertook to forward the issues raised by Bulgaria to Athens and expressed hope that a quick solution would be found, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry statement said.
(Screenshot via Nova TV)
For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.
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