PM: Bulgaria set to end ‘green certificate’ for everything but travel by March 20

Bulgaria’s government is predicting that by March 20, it will be possible to remove the green certificate requirement for all but European travel, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said on February 21.

At a news conference, it emerged that easing of the green certificate system will begin as of February 24, when owners of public facilities will be given discretion whether to require visitors to show green certificates, although employees will still be required to have them.

Petkov cited the trends in the categorisations of the regions into which Bulgaria is divided according to the government’s national plan against Covid-19.

“As can be seen on the map of the regions, red is giving way to yellow,” he said.

“The whole country is entering stage two and stage three. We expect that with the speed at which things are moving, it will reach stage one, which means that Bulgaria will be a green zone,” Petkov said.

“Without mass closures of schools and businesses, we dealt with the wave of Omicron,” he said.

Petkov said that the abolition of the green certificate system did not mean that the authorities would stop encouraging people to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Health Minister Assena Serbezova said that the gradual easing of the anti-epidemic measures did not mean that it was not worth getting vaccinated.

Serbezova pointed to the fact that 90 per cent of those who died had not been vaccinated.

Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev said that “after two years of restrictions, problems and difficulties, the moment is coming when we can say that things are going well”.

Kunchev said that in the past three weeks, the decrease in Covid-19 morbidity in Bulgaria had been rising, with a decline of 24.8 per cent in the past week.

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital in Bulgaria had dropped below the 6000-mark and it was expected that it would drop below the 5000-mark this week, he said.

Kunchev said that from February 24, all owners of public facilities would be allowed to decide whether or not to require customers to have a green certificate. The requirement for staff to have green certificates would remain in place.

From March 5, a green certificate would not be required for admission to places such as restaurants, irrespective of the personal preference of the owner. The green certificate requirement for staff would remain in place.

Also from March 5, children would be able to attend classes at extracurricular centres, provided that requirements for physical distancing, ventilation and disinfection are complied with.

From March 5, the rules for entry to Bulgaria would be amended, so that anyone with a green certificate would be able to enter Bulgaria from any country in the world. As of that date, the dark red zone category of foreign country would be dropped.

As of March 20, the green certificate requirement would be wholly abolished, apart from being used for travel abroad. This means that, from that date, it would no longer be required for staff, and for admission to higher education institutions, Kunchev said.

He said that the rule about wearing protective masks indoors in public places, including public transport, was likely to remain in place.

As to testing of school pupils for Covid-19, Kunchev said that that could be scrapped only when data showed a serious decrease in the number of ill teachers and pupils.

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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