Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said here Monday that the government's COVID relief payments for businesses cannot last forever and spoke of a gradual reopening of the economy after December 21, when the current soft lockdown is due to expire. "Let our heroes, the medical workers, treat people so that they can go back to work," Borissov said, adding that the best anti-crisis measure would be to start reopening all businesses gradually after December 21.
The Prime Minister made these comments during a visit to a bread factory, accompanied by Labour and Social Policy Minister Denitsa Sacheva.
Borissov announced that the State has extended over 1.1 billion leva in support to businesses. He added that if the situation continues to improve, nursery schools and kindergartens will reopen on December 12.
"There is no economic logic for the State to pay wages while no taxes are being collected and nothing is being produced, as it does not have its own revenue sources," Borissov said. "It is impossible to cover 80 per cent of all wages while no one is working. We don't want to take out loans for the future generations to repay, that is why the best possible recovery measure would be to reopen the economy," the Prime Minister concluded, pointing out that otherwise the financial and economic crisis would be severe.
In Borissov's words, Bulgarians "must get used to the idea that we are nearing the end of the pandemic."
Last week Bulgaria had the worst COVID death rate in the EU/EEA and the UK but on December 7 it has the second worst (27.4 per 100,000 population, compared to 28.5 in Slovenia). The 14-day cumulative COVID cases per 100,000 population are 565.7, which is far from the worst-hit countries, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Some experts attribute this to the tighter restrictions, which Sofia set in place on November 27, closing restaurants and bars, forcing schools and universities to switch to online schooling and banning audiences at sports events.