Health Minister calls off order mandating masks in public a day after it was issued

Number of COVID-19 confirmed cases rise to 399

Health Minister Kiril Ananniev

20 new cases of COVID-19 were registered over the past day in Bulgaria, bringing the grand total to 399. 146 of those are hospitalized, 14 are intubated. 20 of the infected are medical professionals.

Meanwhile Health Minister Kiril Ananliev canceled his latest order from yesterday, which made it obligatory for everyone to wear a protective mask in public spaces.

The measure likely aimed at making sure everybody, including carriers of the coronavirus, who are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, to wear protective equipment. However, it remained utterly unclear how the requirements could be fulfilled, given the supply chain is already critically low on masks. In addition, the fixed fine for violating any of the minister’s orders to contain the spread if the novel coronavirus under the state of emergency, is 5000 leva. Anyone not wearing a mask in public, in other words, faced an immediate fine of 5000 leva.

Ananiev’s explanation as to why he is pulling back the order he enacted less than 24 hours earlier was "a lack of full consensus [on the matter of mandatory masks] in the public." Still, the government strongly advises and urges everybody to wear a mask, regardless of symptoms.  

The head of the coronavirus crisis response team, General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski told reporters today it had been on his advice Ananliev issued the order mandating masks. He has coincidently till now expressed firm belief on more than one occasion that wearing a mask if healthy is pointless, and he has consistently discouraged people from doing so.

Still, Bulgaria will go forward with a purchase of one million masks to, which will be distributed among socially disadvantaged communities.

The city of Burgas is already giving out masks to those in need. People may get masks in the mornings in most grocery stores.

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