The Bulgarian government announced Wednesday it will introduce new measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The semi-lockdown comes after months of steep rise in daily cases – fluctuating in the thousands – deaths, as well as hospitalizations. The country quickly rose to the top of the respective lists Europe but the government was reluctant to impose anything beyond mandatory masks in closed public spaces and reducing the maximum customer capacity in restaurants, theaters, etc.
The announcement was made by Health Minister in the absence of PM Boyko Borissov who has been generally against stricter measures, reportedly, in contrast with the National Coronavirus Crisis Response Team, since the spike in cases began in September. The PM and general official position has been that there is no need for any restrictions.
At the same time, and as the Coronavirus Crisis Response Team explained during this briefing, the healthcare system now is barely able to sustain the load of the cases, which need hospital care.
According the order issued by the minister, issued later in the day after the announcement, all classes – kindergarten, school, university, but also seminars, courses and other kinds of education activities – will be exclusively online. Only the final state exams for obtaining a higher education degree in the medical field will be held in person.
Gyms, casinos, and event spaces will also be closed. Sport competitions may be held but without any audience, and only if the competitors are not underage. Pools will remain open following strict sanitary protocols. Theaters will also be able to hold performance but only at 30% audience capacity.
Bars, cafés and restaurants will close for the period, too. These may operate only to provide home delivery service.
Malls and shopping centers will shut down but small shops will be allowed to continue working.
Places of worship will also remain open. Family special events such as weddings, baptisms, funerals and the like may be performed with no more than 15 people present.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria confirmed 4382 new cases of coronavirus infections in the past 24-hour, bringing the total number of cases in the country since the outbreak to 129348.
Currently 6365 Covid-19 patients are under hospital care. 392 are in ICUs.
5126 medical personnel are with the virus, 182 confirmed in the last day.
3226 people with the virus have died since the first cases were discovered back in March. 157 of those have died in the past 24 hours.
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