Bulgaria registers sixth death from COVID-19, cases rise to 331

PM Boyko Borissov announces developments in economic measures

PM Boyko Borissov

Bulgaria registered three deaths in a day from coronavirus, bringing the total to six. One is a 64-year-old woman, who was being treated in Pirogov hospital in Sofia. Another – a 55-year-old man from Razlog. He was working at the ski lift in Bansko – one of the most popular ski resorts in Bulgaria and the only town in the country to declare a full lockdown due to the novel coronavirus on March 17. The third was a patient in Kyustendil.   

This is the first time more than one fatality has occurred in a single day in Bulgaria since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered March 8.

Meanwhile, schools will remain closed at least until April 12. Education Minister Krassimir Valchev said the schoolyear might end up being extended but he assured it will not be canceled altogether.

PM Boyko Borissov also announced an expansion to the measures, aimed to aid companies affected by the virus in keeping their workers.

The measure essentially states the social security budget will pay 60% of workers’ salaries if they face losing their jobs due to the measures to contain the spread of the virus. The specifics of the plan are still in development.

Last week the legislation failed to be enacted because the debates between employers, unions and the government did not reach an agreement on different aspects of the measure. They could not agree on who would pay the social security taxes in the 60:40 split, the state or the employer. Another source of much heated debates was who would be eligible for the subsidy. Lastly, the Union of Bulgarian Business stressed the fact that the self-employed were excluded from the plan by default, while they – estimated at 800 000 – are one of the most vulnerable groups in this crisis.

Today the PM addressed at least one of the issues, the scope of the beneficiaries. Businesses which prove to have shrunk income by at least 20% compared to the same time last year could benefit from the measure.

The UBB reacted positively to the news but underlined that this is only one aspect of one measure. What Bulgaria needs to do, and fast, is develop a whole plan to meet the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.

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