Bulgaria turns state of emergency into epidemic emergency, some restrictions remain

Bulgaria's government on Wednesday declared an epidemic emergency until 14 June, allowing the health minister to extend restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus outbreak. The measure replaces a state of emergency introduced in the middle of March, under which the country imposed travel bans, prohibited socialising in public spaces and closed schools, restaurants and bars.

The government started gradually reopening cinemas, museums and other recreational venues, but they will be subject to restrictions that support social distancing. It is also allowing the re-opening of outdoor bars and outdoor restaurants, guest houses and small hotels. They would all have to comply with required sanitary measures.

Lawmakers, eager to support the hard-hit tourism sector, voted to allow state subsidies for tour operators who bring foreign holidaymakers to the country's resorts with charter flights. They also required operators of Black Sea beaches to cut the cost of umbrellas and sunbeds.

Bulgaria declared the state of emergency on 13 March to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, imposing travel bans, prohibiting socialising in public spaces and closing schools, restaurants and bars.

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