Sofia partially opens access to ten parks from April 27

The order by the Health Minister and guidelines on Sofia official site have a conflicting point

Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova

Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova announced today that ten large parks in the city will open starting Monday, April 27. As has often been the case to date, however, the orders, which the different authorities issued have a conflicting point.

Over the past week, the government and the coronavirus response team hinted parks might soon open. Late last week it was announced Sofia will test opening one park on Sunday. Fandakova opened the South Park and announced new measures to be enacted the next day.

From the outset the groups, which were going to be allowed to enter parks were parents with young children, pregnant women, people walking their pets and people practicing individual sports.

This seemed to be the case but when the Minister of Health issued his order on the matter, the document only included parents with children (from 9:30 AM till 6:30 PM) and people walking their pets (in the times before and after the abovementioned). Visits for sporting activities and pregnant women were absent.

At the same time, Sofia Municipality’s website published guidelines outlining the new rules regarding park visits. There it listed people practicing individual sports and pregnant women as one of the groups allowed in the parks (people practicing sports – before 9:30AM and after 6:30PM).

It is not entirely clear yet which one has priority: the guideline published the site or the order by the minister.

In addition, the municipal government has issued routes for people to follow when entering the parks, which suggest visitors should enter from one point and exit from another. Parents with children could walk but will not be allowed to use the playgrounds or sit on the benches. Picnics, and gatherings are also forbidden. Visitors are obliged to keep a distance of at least 2,5 meters.

Parks were among the first to close after the first four cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the country on May 8, which subsequently led to Parliament decreeing a state of emergency on March 13. The WHO declared the COVID-19 a pandemic on march 11.

The parks in Sofia to be included in the measure are: Borissova Gradina Park, South Park, the park around the National Palace of Culture, Geo Milev Park, West Park, Northern Park, Zaimov Park, Studentski Park and Druzhba Park.

Other parks throughout the country are allowed to open as well but it will be left to municipal governments to decide.

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