Bulgarian Health Minister’s order on ‘green certificate’ exemption: Details

Bulgarian caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov has issued the order on changes to anti-epidemic measures that will take effect from October 21 onwards, which introduces stricter restrictions but also exemptions for holders of “green certificates”. These are the details.

The order suspends all in-person classes at universities, as well as group courses at language, music and dance schools and other educational centres.

Public events such as concerts and other music events, cinema, theatre and other indoor stage productions, conferences and seminars are suspended. Sports events are restricted to competitions involving professional athletes and must be held without spectators.

Visits to gyms, swimming pools and spa centres are suspended. Organised tourism activities are also suspended.

Visits to restaurants, bars and night clubs are suspended. So are visits to shopping malls, large stores of more than 300 sq m, markets and indoors exhibitions, with the exception of essential shops such as supermarkets, pharmacies, pet stores, banks, insurers, providers of telecom, postal and payment services.

All the activities listed above, however, are subject to the “green certificate” exemption. The “green certificate” means an official document showing that the person has completed the vaccination cycle against Covid-19, has undergone the disease, or has had a negative result of a PCR (no older than 72 hours) or antigen (no older than 48 hours) test.

The exemption applies if all the staff in that location has a “green certificate” and if the management/event organisers have “set up procedures” that would only allow holders of “green certificates” on the premises. If such organisation is put in place, the locations are also open to people aged under 18 without the need to present a “green certificate”, the order said.

The other restrictions put in place by the new order that are not subject to the “green certificate” exemption are as follows:

  • all employees and staff in medical facilities and care homes are required to have a “green certificate”;
  • visits by outsiders to hospitals and care homes are suspended, the sole exceptions being for visits to terminal patients;
  • activities at personal development and children’s centres, with the exception of special educational support centres, are suspended;
  • teambuilding and other organised company group events of a similar nature are suspended;
  • indoor sports events are limited to training and competitions by professional athletes, without any spectators in attendance;
  • private family events, such as weddings and funerals, are limited to no more than 15 people if held indoors and 30 people if held outdoors;
  • stores and providers of administrative services must limit the number of customers/visitors to one person for each eight sq m of their premises;
  • open-air markets and exhibitions must limit the number of customers/visitors to one person for each eight sq m of the premises, keep all movement in one direction and ensure at least 1.5m social distancing at all times, while staff and visitors are required to wear face masks;
  • employers are required to allow their employees to work from home whenever possible and limit the number of people at their offices to 50 per cent of total staff.

Additionally, a number of provisions in the order refer to the operation of schools. In-person classes are to be suspended in all schools in municipalities with a 14-day morbidity rate of more than 750 per 100 000 population.

In municipalities where the 14-day morbidity rate is between 500 and 750 per 100 000 population, schools are to rotate in-person classes so as to limit attendance to 50 per cent of pupils.

Pupils in grades five to 12, as well as all teachers and staff, are required to wear masks when indoors. Physical education classes are required to be held outdoors. After-school activities must be held in a way that prevents the mixing of pupils from different classes.

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

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