Measures against Covid-19 remain in force until 31 January

Mortality rate and hospital bed occupancy remain high

The finalised set of anti-epidemic measures which will be in force until 31 January 2021 were reported by the ministers at a working meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

One of the changes to the current restrictions envisages the students from first through fourth grade to start attending school as of 4 January next year, and that kindergartens and nurseries will reopen as well. “We need to be fast and flexible in taking these measures, in supporting businesses and people, in providing medicines, vaccines, as the pandemic situation around the world is getting more complicated and the death toll is unfortunately still high,” PM Borissov said at the beginning of the meeting. He noted that even though the number of infected patients in Bulgaria is much lower and the number of people restored to health exceeds those infected, the country ranks 14th in Europe in terms of morbidity rates. “We have always put people's lives and health first, so we continue to operate observing these measures,” said the prime minister.

During the working meeting, Minister of Education and Science Krassimir Valchev pointed out that direct pedagogical interaction is the most important thing for the young students, so the children from first through fourth grade should return to the classrooms. He also noted that the adopted amendments to the Pre-school and School Education Act allow parents who worry too much to be able to keep their children in an e-learning environment by submitting an application for this purpose. “We discussed many options in the summer, but this one turned out to be the most successful,” said Minister Valchev.

Health Minister Kostadin Angelov reported the current data on the incidence of Covid-19 in Bulgaria. “There is a very slight decrease in the incidence and the percentage of positive tests. However, the mortality rate remains high, yesterday 191 Bulgarian citizens lost their lives, and the occupancy of hospital beds remains high. That is the reason we propose an extension of the anti-epidemic measures until 31 January,” Angelov was adamant.

PM Borissov also said that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused an unprecedented financial and economic crisis and was leading the countries towards bankruptcy. Some of the states already have a negative budget deficit of 15%. “No country has enough buffer. We have provided at this stage over BGN 1.1 billion in support to small and medium enterprises,” the prime minister added.

Minister of Economy Lachezar Borisov said that on Monday a platform would be launched through which businesses could apply for support under the measures developed jointly with the National Revenue Agency. Simultaneously, after the notification from the EC, and immediately after the New Year, there will be an opportunity for launching the measure in support of the so-called “large small enterprises” with a turnover of over BGN 500,000. The economy minister also stated that together with Chief State Health Inspector Dr Angel Kunchev they would hold talks with the large retail chains for stricter compliance with the anti-epidemic measures.

“Considering the fact that the restrictive measures will be also in force in January, we have taken this opportunity into account in advance - meaning the companies, with a minimum of administrative effort, will be able to apply and receive support for any period in which they have been closed,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev. He was adamant that sufficient funds have been provided for this purpose.

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