IN FOCUS Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Retailer group criticises ‘green corridor’ for elderly shoppers

IN FOCUS Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Retailer group criticises ‘green corridor’ for elderly shoppers

An industry group criticised on November 18 the order by Bulgaria’s Health Minister Kostadin Angelov that designated time intervals during which only people aged 65 or older could shop in supermarkets and pharmacies, saying that it created “more tension than solutions.”

Last week, Angelov initially limited the elderly to shopping between 8am and 10am, but later amended his order to designate that interval, as well as a second one between 1.30pm and 4.30pm, for use exclusively by people over the age of 65.

The Modern Trade Association, which includes Avanti, Billa Bulgaria, DM Bulgaria, Kaufland and Lidl Bulgaria among its members, said that the afternoon interval did not create a safer shopping environment but achieved the opposite, leading to “queues and risky accumulation of people in front of shops” before and after the interval.

The industry group listed a number of other criticisms – it did not fully protect the elderly, who had the choice to shop outside those time intervals; it discriminated people over 65 who were employed and unable to shop during those time periods; it was impossible to enforce because security personnel could not check the age of shoppers and led to “conflict situations that endangered the health of retail employees and security personnel.”

Additionally, the measure was not well communicated, creating confusion in its implementation, the group said. It also applied only to supermarkets and pharmacies, leaving out other shops where people may spend more time and public transportation.

The industry group concluded that compliance with an anti-epidemic measure was “directly related to whether people were persuaded of its effectiveness” and proposed scrapping the ‘green corridors.’

The statement by the Modern Trade Association came on the same day that Angelov appeared on the breakfast show of public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, during which he said that there was no intention to change the current arrangement of the ‘green corridors.’

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