Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Proposal tabled to allow New Year’s Eve events in hotel restaurants

Bulgaria’s Tourism Minister Mariana Nikolova said on December 29 that she would ask the government, medical authorities and the country’s national coronavirus response staff to consider a proposal that would allow hotels in restaurants to work until past midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Under the proposal, restaurants in hotels would be allowed to work until 12.30am, but would still be required to keep social distancing measures in place, operating at up to 50 per cent capacity, and would be banned from providing any entertainment programmes, Nikolova told private broadcaster bTV.

Nikolova said that the Christmas holidays, which passed without any incidents or breaches of health regulations, were evidence that tourists and hotels were both being “disciplined” in observing the rules.

Nikolova’s proposal was backed by several tourism industry groups, but drew an immediate backlash from two restaurateur associations, which said in a joint statement that it was “yet another discrimination against our industry” and an attempt to “make official New Year’s Eve celebrations that are banned for other establishments.”

Bulgaria’s current Covid-19 restrictions, put in place in late November and later extended until the end of January 2021, have shut down restaurants, allowing only takeaway and home delivery services.

However, at the time the restrictions were renewed on December 21, an exception was made for eating places in hotels, which were allowed to open, using up to 50 per cent capacity, solely for guests of the hotel and with a closing time of 10pm.

In other news in Bulgaria on December 29 related to the Covid-19 situation:

Large queues have become a daily occurrence at the Bulgarian-Turkish border, caused mainly by people travelling for the purpose of shopping in Turkey, Bulgarian National Television reported.

The report attributed the increase in traffic in recent days to people looking to get their shopping done before Turkey’s new travel restrictions go into effect at 11pm on December 29, when all travellers entering the country would be required to present a negative PCR test result.

Travellers to the Netherlands were also required to show proof of a negative PCR test result done no more than 72 hours before entering the country, under regulations that went into effect on December 29, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.

The test results had to be presented before boarding a plane and could be requested again upon arrival, the ministry said. The requirement applied to those travelling by sea, train or bus, including transit travellers.

At the same time, the 10-day quarantine requirement on arrivals from countries on the “orange” and “red” risk list remained in force, the ministry said. The Netherlands currently has Bulgaria on its “orange” risk list.

Plovdiv city hall said that it has used the suspension of in-person classes in kindergartens to carry out full disinfection of the city’s 52 kindergartens, employing the services of a nanotechnology company that has developed anti-microbial surface coating.

The city hall said that the technology was safe and met the requirements of the Health Ministry. The city’s kindergartens are expected to open on schedule on January 4 2021.

(Photo of Mariana Nikolova on bTV’s set: Bulgarian Tourism Ministry)

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

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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The Sofia Globe staff

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