Government introduces new anti-epidemic measures

Restrictions take effect on 27 November and will initially apply until 21 December

Minister of Healthcare Kostadin Angelov

New, stricter measures aimed at mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus are being introduced by the government. The new restrictions are to take effect on Friday, 27 November and apply until 21 December. The news came from Minister of Healthcare Kostadin Angelov. The order will officially enter into force Friday evening.

All educational facilities are to suspend classes - the order applies to all institutions of higher learning as well as students from first through to 12th grade and covers all classes, extracurricular activities, interest clubs, afterschool classes, afterschool programmes, etc. Kindergartens and daycare centres are to be closed. Public events with in-person attendance and entertainment events involving large gatherings will no longer be held, with the notable exception of theatres, which will be allowed attendance at 30% capacity under strict enforcement of safety protocols. Private gatherings and parties are to be limited to no more than 15 people.  

Team and individual sports events involving participants under the age of 18 are also to be put on hold with the exception of international sports events already in progress. All sports events with participants over the age of 18 and international events for kids under 18 are to be held without fans. Gyms, restaurants and nightclubs are to suspend operations. Food places will be allowed to make deliveries and serve to-go orders. Attending gaming halls and casinos is to be prohibited, as is going to shopping malls. Pet stores, eyewear stores, pharmacies, food stores, banks, telecommunications operator's retail venues, and post offices are exempt. Small local stores will continue to operate as well.

Churches and places of worship will remain open. Parks and gardens will be accessible, no curfews are being imposed.

“We are not shutting down the country completely or claiming that the new measures will 100% limit face-to-face interaction, but they will have an impact,” Prof Ventsislav Mutafchiyski, head of the National Operational Staff said. He supported the cabinet's decision to introduce a new series of restrictive measures and reminded that most European countries have already taken this step.

“There is no stay-at-home mandate, as some have speculated. The goal is to bring down the rate of infection, which, according to our analyses and data from other countries, we should start seeing towards the end of the second week of mitigation efforts at the earliest. The mortality rate is expected to go down between the second and the end of the third week. This is imperative for our healthcare system to be able to withstand the pressure,” Prof Mutafchiyski is adamant.  

He assured the public that Bulgaria has enough hospital beds, but cautioned that the number of available medical teams capable of treating Covid-19 patients is decreasing the further we get into the pandemic. At present, over 2,000 doctors and nurses are unavailable, which reduces the capacity of the healthcare system, Prof Mutafchiyski explained.

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