Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Shopping malls, gyms, cinemas open on February 1

As of February 1, shopping malls, cinemas, gyms and dance schools in Bulgaria are allowed to re-open as part of easing of Health Ministry measures against the spread of Covid-19.

Restaurants remain closed until February 28, although deliveries and takeaways for the home or office are allowed. The exception for restaurants in places of accommodation remains in place – meaning that they are allowed only to serve registered guests.

Shopping malls in Bulgaria were ordered closed in November when heightened restrictions came into effect, though an exception was allowed for banks and other financial services, food shops, pet shops, pharmacies, opticians and offices of telecoms companies.

Those younger than 18 may visit shopping malls only if accompanied by a parent, guardian or other adult.

While as of February 1, visits to cinemas and participation in creative, dance and music classes are allowed, no more than 30 per cent of capacity may be used and physical distancing must be observed.

As of February 1, the rules on protective face coverings, which must be worn in enclosed public places and public transport, as well as while outdoors in a crowded place, change. Protective masks must be worn, while the rule allowing substitution with face shields or scarves falls away.

The current version of Health Minister Kostadin Angelov’s order says that from March 1, restaurants and coffee shops may open, but not discos, night clubs, piano bars, dance bars and night bars. The places that will be allowed to open may not use more than 50 per cent of their capacity, there must be a distance of 1.5 metres between the backs of chairs on two adjacent tables and staff must wear protective masks.

Speaking to Nova Televizia on January 31, Richard Alibegov, head of the Association of Restaurants in Bulgaria, said that 30 per cent of restaurants would not re-open.

“I think that every ensuing week and month will see that number go up,” Alibegov said.

The Bulgarian Association of Restaurants and the Association of Restaurants in Bulgaria said in a joint statement that a plan for restaurants to re-open on February 1 in defiance of the Health Ministry ban had been called off. Close to 88 per cent of their members had voted to support the decision to drop the plan for the protest.

“We are ready to bear the administrative fines imposed on our staff, but we cannot allow them to be prosecuted. Most of them have been with us for years, we have been suffering together since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, and we have no moral right now to ask them to become subject to the Penal Code,” the associations said.

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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