Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Some districts step up anti-epidemic measures

A number of districts in Bulgaria have announced stepped-up anti-epidemic measures as the country’s Covid-19 crisis deepens.

The district of Vratsa is moving fifth to 12th grade pupils to distance learning from March 17 until the end of March.

Scheduled admissions and operations at hospitals in Vratsa are suspended.

Wearing of protective masks outdoors is mandatory wherever people gather and in all public places.

Restaurants must close by 10pm.

In the Veliko Turnovo district, it has been left to heads of schools to decide whether to go over to distance learning.

All public outdoor and indoor events in the district are prohibited from March 16 to 29.

Language and education centres remain open. Dance and music schools in municipal buildings are closed until March 29.

In shopping malls, food chains and administrative buildings, there should be no more than one person per three square metres.

Restaurant opening hours in Veliko Turnovo remain unchanged.

In Gabrovo, anti-epidemic measures in effect from March 17 to April 3 send pupils in the fifth to 12th grades over to distance learning, and suspend all extracurricular activities.

Organised mass events are restricted, and private gatherings may be attended by no more than 15 people.

In the Blagoevgrad district, pupils from the fifth to 12th grades go over to distance learning, and group extracurricular activities for all age groups are discontinued.

Cinemas, theatres and galleries may use no more than 30 per cent of their capacity.

Mass events indoor and outdoors are restricted.

Training and competitive sports events are suspended, with an exception for sports people registered with federations.

Private gatherings in Blagoevgrad may be attended by no more than 10 people.

No more than 50 per cent of capacity of fitness centres may be used, with distancing of two metres between visitors and a closing time of 9pm. The temperatures of those arriving must be taken.

Shopping centres must close at 8pm and restaurants at 10pm.

Visits to social homes are prohibited. Retirement clubs will continue to operate, with no more than 10 visitors at a time.

Gambling halls and casinos may be open from 6am to 10pm, but using no more than 50 per cent of capacity and with mandatory wearing of protective masks.

Until March 31, group excursions abroad are forbidden.

In Stara Zagora district, pupils in the fifth to 12th grades are going over to distance learning from March 18 to 31.

Group extracurricular activities are suspended, with an exception for competitions and Olympiads, with no more than 50 per cent of seating occupied and with mandatory wearing of protective masks.

In-person classes at higher education institutions are also suspended, with the exception of state exams for medical students and practical exercises in clinical disciplines.

Stara Zagora has banned mass events such as fairs and festivals outdoors. Group tourist events are suspended.

Cultural and entertainment events are allowed, with no more than 30 per cent occupancy of seats in the halls.

Outsiders may not visit social care homes.

Unaccompanied minors may not visit shopping malls and restaurants in Stara Zagora.

In other news on March 16 regarding the Covid-19 situation:

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court ruled on March 16 to deny the appeal lodged by 54 socialist MPs against National Assembly rule changes that allowed Members of Parliament to attend sittings via video conference if they were self-isolating or under quarantine.

In their formal complaint, filed in November 2020, the socialist MPs argued that video conferencing went against established legal precedent and previous Constitutional Court decisions, which all emphasised the physical attendance of MPs during sittings.

The court is yet to publish its decision in full, but said that the decision to reject the appeal was taken unanimously. 

Opera Plovdiv announced on March 16 that given the deteriorating epidemiological situation, it was cancelling all performances until March 26.

Disappointment with the disrupted supply of vaccines was expressed by the Chancellor of Austria and the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovenia, Croatia and the Czech Republic after a March 16 meeting in Vienna on the distribution of vaccines among EU member states.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that he expects a quick solution to the problem of vaccine distribution in the European Union.

“We are not wanting alms. Bulgaria has invested in the development of vaccines. Since when do we have a ranking table? This is a political slap,” he said.

Earlier, the government’s press service said that Borissov would point out to leaders in Vienna that the proportional distribution of vaccines on a per capita basis should be applied to supplies, not just the quantities ordered.

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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