Bulgarian MPs quarantined after colleague tests positive for COVID-19, undergoing testing

As MPs cannot attend Parliament it is unclear how, where and if crucial votes will take place

Bulgarian MPs quarantined after colleague tests positive for COVID-19, undergoing testing

A week back Parliament voted to suspend its session and to hold only emergency sittings. A few crucial legislations call for such a meeting but as MP Hasan Ademov tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, MPs have been quarantined. They are undergoing tests at the moment and if cleared, could go back to work. Still, MPs must find a way to establish a model to be able to pass legislation without overcrowding.

As the constitution clearly states half MPs must be present for a sitting to be legitimate, and MPs vote in a certain way - specifically inside the chamber - options are limited. Even if MPs develop a system to vote from a distance, legislation passed this way will be susceptible to annulment later in court, Parliament's legal team has said. 

In the meantime, the government also tabled a motion earlier today for the emergency measures due to the coronavirus to be extended for another month – until May 13, which will further amount to the pressure on MPs to find a feasible solution to the possible inability for them to physically meet and vote. Some MPs suggested that there might be a way for the debates to be conducted online, but a solution to the voting procedure itself will prove a challenge. An extension of the state of emergency, which the Cabinet requested, also needs to be passed with a vote in Parliament.

One idea MPs are currently discussing is to open a sitting with only enough attendees to establish a quorum (121), then return to the other Parliament building, where all the offices are, debate online and vote with a paper ballot in a hall in the building one by one. 

Apart from extending the state of emergency, MPs also must vote amendments to the Energy Act and to the budget as soon as possible. The former will account for some of the load on the budget due to the coronavirus, while the latter will allow for households to use a longer gratis period for paying utility bills.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria registered the tenth death from coronavirus on Wednesday. The victims are a 40-year-old man in Pirogv hospital in Sofia, and a 57-year-old man in Kuystendil. The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 422 today. 207 of these are hospitalized, 18 are in ICUs.

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