In all likelihood, Bulgaria will extend the current anti-epidemic measures introduced on November 27 until the end of January – this is the proposal of the National Operational Staff and the Minister of Health to the government, their information service announced earlier today.
The proposal follows numerous and vague signals from the responsible institutions, including the Prime Minister himself, who has repeatedly given indications of a possible lifting of restrictions even before Christmas. However, this is unlikely to happen, given the trends in the spread of COVID-19 in the country, which remain worrying.
The restrictive measures in Bulgaria valid until 31 January
In case the proposal is approved, for which official information will be given on Thursday at a regular briefing, all the existing measures will be extended, except for the permission for pupils from 1st to 4th grade to start attending school (from 4 January ), and for the opening of kindergartens and nurseries.
The reopening of galleries, museums, cinemas, as well as theatres at a capacity of 30% starting January; the permission for catering facilities in hotels to operate with up to 50% occupancy and until 10 pm, are also envisaged by the proposal.
Thus, until the next review of the measures, which is expected in January, there would be no face-to-face trainings and extracurricular activities in Bulgaria, nor any physical conference events and gatherings with more than 15 participants. Gyms will remain closed, and so will all catering and entertainment facilities.
Gambling halls and casinos will also not open, and group tours will be suspended.
The country continues to hold middle ranks in terms of the number of new coronavirus cases in the EU but ranks first in terms of mortality. For these reasons, the health officials do not recommend a serious relaxation of the measures, despite a slight decrease in the incidence to less than 600 cases per 100 000 inhabitants.
According to the government, the extension of the measures would increase government spending by about BGN 250 million to compensate businesses whose activities have been temporarily suspended or restricted.