As Covid-19 crisis in Bulgaria worsens, Chief State Health Inspector recommends new measures

Bulgaria’s Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev has sent a report to caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov proposing the introduction of new restrictive measures in the country, the Health Ministry said on August 30.

The report came against the background of a daily update by the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases showing that the 14-day morbidity rate of Covid-19 in Bulgaria is 265.52 per 100 000 population, the statement said.

This means that Bulgaria has crossed the threshold to be classified as a red zone, in terms of the national plan announced by the Health Ministry in July.

Kunchev called for stopping all mass events organised by municipalities and at private initiative, including concerts, music festivals, fairs and folklore events, which bring together people from different parts of Bulgaria and elsewhere and result in crowding of people in a limited area.

“This is a prerequisite both for mass infection of those present due to the high contagious index of the Delta variant, and for the subsequent secondary spread of the infection in different settlements,” the report said.

He also called for the suspension of indoor congress, conferences, seminars, competitions, traininng sessions, team buildings, exhibitions and other public events.

Such events could be held outdoors, provided that anti-epidemic measures such as the wearing of a protective face mask and maintaining physical distancing were observed.

To make it possible to reduce the negative consequences of restrictive measures on business, it would be appropriate to use the “green passport”, meaning that 100 per cent of the staff and visitors have been vaccinated, undergone the disease or have tested (using a PCR or antigen) negative for Covid-19. This should be certified by the necessary documentation.

The Covid Check BG app, available in the Google Play Store, could help staff applying this approach to easily and quickly check the certificates of visitors, the statement said.

In such cases, congresses, conferences, seminars and other such public events could be held indoors, provided that no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the room is used, and that everyone involved has shown a Digital Covid Certificate of vaccination, illness or testing.

Kunchev called for the suspension of indoors matches and other sports events. An exception would be allowed for the holding of professional sports event indoors, but with no spectators.

Outdoor matches and other sports competitions could go ahead, but with no spectators. An alternative option was to allow spectators at outdoor sports events, up to 50 per cent of the capacity of the stadium or sports hall, provided that the spectators had “green passports”.

He also recommended suspension of group visits to gyms, sports clubs, swimming pools and complexes, spa centres and wellness centres. Only individual use of such places would be allowed, with no more than 30 per cent of capacity used and with visitors maintaining physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres.

An alternative option is to allow group visits and use of up to 50 per cent of the capacity of the site only for persons holding the “green passport” and if all staff have “green passports”.

Kunchev called for suspension of visits to museums, galleries and other cultural events, with an alternative option for 50 per cent of the capacity of the place to be used, only by people with “green passports” and if all staff have “green passports”. The Chief State Health Inspector made a similar recommendation, with the same alternative option, regarding nightclubs, gambling halls and casinos.

He recommended suspending service in the indoor parts of restaurants, while allowing service in the outdoor parts provided that there is a distance of two metres between the chairs of the tables, no more than six people at a table, and with opening hours limited to 7am to 10pm. Home deliveries would be allowed.

Regarding restaurants, Kunchev said that an alternative was to allow the use of 50 per cent of the indoor capacity, admitting only people with “green passports” and with 100 per cent of the staff holding “green passports”.

Kunchev recommended closing hotel restaurants and bars to people who are not guests. Guests could be served via room service, while no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the restaurant should be used.

He said that there should be access control at shopping centres and shopping malls, so that there is no more than one person per eight square metres.

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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