Bulgaria’s Health Ministry said on August 4 that it was advising Bulgarian nationals to avoid “non-essential” trips to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, citing “worsening epidemic conditions and high morbidity rate levels in countries neighbouring Bulgaria.”
The advisory comes less than 48 hours after the ministry updated its list of foreign countries classified respectively as red, orange or green zones according to their Covid-19 situations, with the changes taking effect on August 4.
Cyprus has been on Bulgaria’s “red zone” list since July 17, but Turkey and Greece – both popular destinations for Bulgarian tourists in summer – remain on the “orange zone” list for now.
The Bulgarian Health Ministry’s criteria for classifying a country as a Covid-19 red, orange or green zone may be found in English here. These classifications determine the rules for entry to Bulgaria.
The ministry gave no further details about the Covid-19 situation in Greece and Turkey to explain why it was issuing the advisory but not moving them to the “red list.”
The statement included an appeal to Bulgarians to observe the existing anti-epidemic measures, including social distancing, frequent disinfection and wearing a face mask.
The Health Ministry also offered a reminder that “the summer period is exceedingly appropriate for vaccination against Covid-19, as Bulgaria is still in the ‘green zone’ as regards the spread of Covid-19.”
Vaccines prevented hospitalisation and were the only effective and safe way for people to protect themselves and their families, the ministry said, adding that all four vaccines approved for use in the EU were freely available and “everyone can make an informed choice regardless of their health insurance status.”
Bulgaria had one of the lowest uptake of Covid-19 vaccines in the EU, with 2 050 991 doses administered and 1 013 254 people – or about 14.5 per cent of its population – fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins’ Covid-19 tracking data.