Epidemic emergency extended

Kiril Ananiev

Based on a report by the Chief State Health Inspector Dr. Angel Kunchev, the state of epidemic emergency is being extended, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev told a news briefing on Wednesday at the Council of Ministers. In the morning, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov had a meeting with the national coronavirus taskforce to discuss the overall epidemic situation in Bulgaria. Ananiev said that in his report, Dr. Kunchev points out that the spread of the coronavirus is still a major risk to the health and lives of people.

The Health Minister's orders will remain effective in three major directions.

First, entry into Bulgaria will remain restricted for citizens of third countries with the exception of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia. With regard to other countries, there will be a video conference of EU's interior and foreign ministers on June 15 which is expected to decide on the matter. According to Ananiev, Bulgaria can open its borders to third country citizens no sooner than July 1.

The second group that remain effective are anti-epidemic measures. These are social distancing, hand hygiene, disinfection and recommended facemasks indoors. A decision was made that in indoor public venues, wearing facemasks will be only recommended, while they will be mandatory in public transport.

The third set of regulations is related to the temporary restrictions on mass gathering events. The new rule allows indoor venues to work at 50% capacity, Ananiev added.

Active testing will continue, especially in nursing and retirement homes. Hospital developments will also be closely monitored, as the number of infected medical staff is growing. The Health Minister pointed out that the extension of the epidemic emergency will not bring new measures or restrict further the everyday lives of Bulgarians, but if bad comes to worse, the stricter measures can be reintroduced.

Asked by BTA if it is possible to bring back the restrictions imposed during the state of emergency, Minister Ananiev said that it is not likely to happen.

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