Sofia

The Coronavirus (covid-19) in Bulgaria: Travel info & updates

16 May 2020
On 8th March 2020 it was announced that tests have confirmed the first four cases of Covid-19 new coronavirus in Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted a State of Emergency which was in effect from 13th March and extended to 13th May with strict restrictions in place. 
The current status is the country is in epidemic situation until 14th June.
Easing of restrictions began on 3rd May 2020 and  although the State of Emergency ended on 13th May many of the social distancing measures remain in place. Any large spike in cases may lead to new restrictions being imposed.
Slaveikov father and son with masks
Reminder to Sofianites to not panic! Copyright:@https://www.facebook.com/etiuditenasofia/

What measures have currently been relaxed in Bulgaria?
- As of 3rd May Bulgarians are once again allowed to enjoy their beautiful nature with hikes in the mountains and in general no need to wear protective masks in outdoor spaces. ​​​​​​​The wearing of some form of face mask covering nose and mouth is compulsory in all public indoor spaces including public transport and shops. ​​​​​​​
- Travel restrictions between the major cities within Bulgaria were lifted on 7th May 2020
-  Restaurants with outdoor terraces and gardens are allowed to receive customers albeit with larger spacing between tables and no more than 4 people or one family per table.
- As of Monday 18th May, malls and most other shops may open but some places such as entertainment and gaming halls, bars, indoor restaurants, fast food outlets, coffee shops, and indoor children’s and sports facilities will remain closed. The number of customers may be controlled and the wearing of masks is compulsory.
- Museums and art galleries are also re-opening, again with some limitations.

What is the general level of concern among Bulgarians?
Bulgaria can be grateful to have got away fairly lightly but a lot of the credit must go to excellent crisis management. Unfortunately as a nation Bulgarians are not very disciplined, but probably because of low population density and overall levels of common sense the death toll currently stands at 105. 
The sad truth is that this is a similar number to the amount of road deaths for the first 4 months of the year.

The need for Bulgarians to exercise personal discipline and responsible behaviour remains, but with 100 000 people having lost their jobs and livelihood this is now the new focus and saving what is possible of the summer tourist season.


Is it safe to travel to Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is very much hoping to at least have part of a summer season but it is too early to say exactly how and when this will happen although some flights to Bulgaria are resuming and it is expected that hotels will start to open soon.

What travel restrictions in place?
Currently there is a very limited flight plan from Sofia Airport with only passengers being allowed into the Terminal Buildings after a temperature check but more flights are gradually being added. Currently only Bulgarian or EU citizens ( or those with residence permits) are allowed to enter the country and everyone arriving goes into 14 day quarantine. The police check regularly on all quarantined and hefty penalties for anyone that breaks it.

Some statistics from the website coronavirus.bg
Currently there are 2175 positive cases of Covid 19 ( with 64,480 tests done)
The death toll is 105
Recovered cases 573
Currently in quarantine 22,879

Sources of further information
World Health Organisation
Bulgarian Ministry of Health (in Bulgarian)
sofiaglobe.com
travelhealthpro.org.uk
Latest statistics: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/  

Remember to be informed, behave sensibly, follow government guidelines and practice good hygiene. Above all stay healthy!
Don't panic! 

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