Bulgaria’s Health Ministry announced new anti-epidemic restrictions that will go into effect on October 29 and will be in place for two weeks, until November 12.
The move comes as new Covid-19 infections and death have risen sharply in recent weeks, with active cases reaching 20 346 in the October 27 update, while the number of total cases since the start of the pandemic reached 40 132.
One of the main changes was to suspend classroom learning in high schools and universities, switching to distance learning, as well as extracurricular activities for pupils and students.
Pupils in elementary and middle schools would continue to attend classes and may continue attending extracurricular activities, provided that they are organised in such a way as to prevent mixing of pupils from different classes.
The ministry’s order shut down night clubs, discos, piano bars and other similar indoor entertainment establishments. The organisation of tourist excursions or group visits to tourist sites was also suspended.
A number of other activities were sectors would face increased restrictions, but were not outright shut down.
Restaurants and cafes are required to increase physical distancing to at least 1.5 metres between the backs of the closest two chairs at separate tables. The number of people sitting at one table is limited to six.
Outdoor and indoor markets are required to introduce single-direction corridors and ensure customers keep 1.5 metres apart. Staff and customers are required to wear masks at all times.
Shops and administrative buildings are required to limit the number of visitors to no more than one person per three square metres.
Seminars, exhibitions and other conference events are limited to no more than 30 participants, who are required to keep 1.5 metres apart and wear face masks at all times.
Theatres, cinemas and indoor concerts can proceed if they limit the number of people in attendance to 30 per cent of capacity, who are required to keep 1.5 metres apart and wear face masks at all times.
Indoor and outdoor sport events can still be held behind closed doors, with no public spectators. The sole exception is the Sofia Open tennis tournament, where the public has to be at least two seats apart, keeping 1.5 metres apart and wearing face masks at all times.
Hospitals in districts with more than 120 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100 000 population are required to halt all planned patient admissions and planned surgeries until November 30. Hospitals in districts with 60 to 120 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100 000 population must halt all planned surgeries.
These restrictions do not apply to transplantations, diagnostics and treatment of cancer, in-vitro fertilisation and births, rehabilitation activities, long-term treatment of diseases and mental health help.
Visits to hospitals are suspended, with the exception of patients in terminal stages of a disease.