Police will be on duty in front of big stores in Bulgaria’s city of Plovdiv on weekdays after 5pm and all day Saturday and Sunday until January 2, to control access, mayor Zdravko Dimitrov said, following reports of crowding in grocery shops and household goods retail chain shops.
Dimitrov said that municipal teams had reported to him that there had been long queues at cash registers as well as failure to observe physical distancing in large shops.
The issue came to prominence after a media report about crowding outside and inside the Jumbo toy store in Plovdiv.
“On the eve of Christmas and New Year, everyone wants to choose gifts for their loved ones, to prepare cosy holidays, but is the price we will pay for that worth it? Because it will be at the expense of the health of many people,” Dimitrov was quoted by Plovdiv media as saying.
He said that municipal police, security and inspectorate teams were continuing to inspect retail outlets and public transport.
“Enough of our fellow citizens have already undergone Covid-19, probably among them are your relatives and acquaintances, not a small percentage of whom are deteriorating and need medical attention,” said Dimitrov – who recently spent several days in intensive care with Covid-19.
“After the introduction of new stricter measures by the Minister of Health, grocery stores and those for household goods remained open, but not in order to gather there for gifts and shopping. Give the Bulgarian medics, the most deserving this year, one patient less,” he said.
Plovdiv district governor Dani Kanazireva said that what had happened at the toy store was unacceptable.
She said that the district crisis headquarters had set a limit of 150 customers in large stores, and this number had been considerably exceeded, as well as anti-epidemic measures not being observed.
Kanazireva said that she would ask the regional health inspectorate to fine the store, and in the case of another breach of the rules, order it closed.
She said that she had spoken to the store manager and was confident that measures would be observed and the number of customers in the store reduced.
Meanwhile, Plovdiv’s municipal crisis headquarters has responded to a call from the organisers of Christmas in Kapana, the Crafts Fair and the Pendara Farmers Market to be allowed to go ahead with their organised events, earlier banned by the headquarters along with all large-scale events in Plovdiv until December 21.
The organisers of the events had challenged the headquarters to say what the difference was between their markets and municipal markets, which remain open, asked how open-air markets were more dangerous than indoor large stores, and how the ice rink on Central Square, which remains open, was safer to public health.
Responding, the municipal crisis headquarters said that it had the right, at the local level, to take measures beyond the scope of the orders of the Ministry of Health.
“In view of the current situation: high levels of morbidity from Covid-19 in Plovdiv, decreasing capacity of hospitals and overburdening of medical staff, the municipal crisis staff recommended the issuance of an order suspending the issuance of permits for public events until December 21 2020,” it said.
(Screenshot: Nova Televizia; photos of Plovdiv ice rink on December 2: Lance Nelson of banskoblog.com)
The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassies of Switzerland and Finland.
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