Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry denied on July 9 reports in Bulgarian media earlier in the day that all holidaymakers crossing the Bulgarian-Greek border at the Kulata-Promachonas checkpoint must undergo coronavirus tests, under updated guidelines issued by Greek authorities.
The ministry said that testing was not mandatory, but Greece sought to carry out “a maximum number of tests”, currently set at 3000 daily at the border crossing, according to Greek civil defence authorities contacted by Bulgarian diplomatic personnel at the embassy in Athens.
“This means that if the number of travellers on a given day is below 3000, all will be tested. If the number is higher, only some travellers would undergo tests,” the ministry said in a statement.
Tourists tested at the border would be told to self-isolate for 48 hours at the address provided in their passenger location forms. Should the test be positive, they can either quarantine at that address for 14 days, with expenses covered by the Greek state, including hospital treatment if necessary, or return to their home country.
The ministry said that it received assurances that any Bulgarian national who tested positive and chose to return would be allowed to do so, provided they did not stop until reaching the border and observed anti-epidemic measures.
The ministry’s statement comes after reports by public broadcasters Bulgarian National Television and Bulgarian National Radio said earlier on July 9 that PCR tests at the border had become mandatory.
Those reports said that the new measures were introduced due to the deteriorating epidemic situation in a number of Balkan countries, with Greece’s National Public Health Organisation announcing that the bulk of new coronavirus cases were foreign nationals on holiday.
Meanwhile, the additional delay caused by testing did not cause queues at Kulata-Promachonas, which saw tourists waiting for hours to cross the border last week, but that could change on July 10 and at the weekend, when a fresh spike in traffic was expected.
Greece has started re-opening to international tourists in order to help its tourism industry, but put in place a protocol that requires all foreign arrivals to complete mandatory passenger location forms starting July 1.
(Koulata-Promachonas border crossing photo: Anton Lefterov)
For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.
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