Inspections, queues as Bulgaria’s ‘grace period’ for Covid green certificates ends

Checks by combined teams of police and regional health inspectorate teams began at shopping malls in Sofia and other places in Bulgaria on October 25 after the end of the four-day “grace period” during which no fines were imposed for failing to comply with the order requiring a green certificate for admission to indoor public places, reports said.

There were also reports of long queues of staff outside shopping malls, waiting to undergo rapid antigen tests for Covid-19.

Bulgarian National Radio reported that a check by police and health officials at a large shopping centre in Sofia found no breaches of the rules, while at a testing point next to the store, more than 130 tests had been done by noon, all of them negative.

Darik Radio said that in the first hours of the day, and again at lunchtime, restaurants in Sofia were “empty”. It said that for several days, since caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov’s order was announced, fewer people had been going to shopping malls.

Plovdiv media said that at the city’s oldest shopping malls, employees and customers waited for hours to undergo tests for Covid-19.

Radio Plovdiv said that there was discontent at the regional health insurance fund, where staff did not agree with having to pay 10 leva for a test and to have to wait in queues.

Radio Bourgas reported large queues of those awaiting testing outside large retail stores in the Bulgarian Black Sea city.

The report said that those holding green certificates were admitted immediately to shops, but those without had to wait for hours.

It quoted one of the staff waiting in a queue as saying: “There should be better organisation so that we don’t have to wait this long. I’ve been waiting since 10am because I work here and it’s already 11.30am, and we have only moved forward by three metres.

“It’s happening so slowly. At some point, people will lose patience and prefer to get vaccinated instead of waiting for hours several times a week.”

A report by Radio Blagoevgrad said that at one of the large shopping malls in the city, security guards were checking all customers and staff.

The report quoted a security guard at the mall as saying: “We do not have the right to ask for an identity card, only if we have suspicions about the person who shows the certificate. Then, he can show his ID card from a distance, in criminal cases we can call the law enforcement agencies. But, so far we have no problems, we know these people. They show their certificates and go on”.

Under Katsarov’s rules, people younger than 18 can visit shopping malls and other indoor places without having to show a green certificate.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation, 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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