Much of the country is trying to return to business as usual, and hopes had been running high that after 15th June most businesses and cultural events would be able to restart activities, albeit with certain restrictions still in place. Unfortunately, and mainly because of a lack of discipline among Bulgarians, the number of positive cases is on the rise, although less than 10% of the tests are coming in positive. Still much of Europe has chosen to blacklist Bulgaria in that travellers from Bulgaria (or returning from) either have to provide a negative PCR, taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival, or go into self isolation for 14 days.
Most tourists from the EU and the Schengen area visiting Bulgaria, are no longer subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The situation is very dynamic and we are not able to keep up with all the changes and therefore recommend the excellent news site Sofia Globe for up to date information in English.
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.
As of 15th June the wearing of some form of face mask covering nose and mouth is compulsory on all public transport, in pharmacies and medical establishments. The wearing of masks in all indoor spaces has been reintroduced.
It is highly recommended to continue wearing masks in public spaces where social distancing cannot be easily observed.
- Travel restrictions between the major cities within Bulgaria were lifted on 7th May 2020
- Restaurants have re-opened albeit with larger spacing between tables
- As of Monday 18th May, malls and most other shops re-opened. 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 until now but a lot of the credit must go to excellent crisis management. Unfortunately as a nation Bulgarians are not very disciplined, and probably because of low population density and fast initial response the total death toll is low.
The sad truth is that a similar number of road deaths (if not higher) happen year on year.
The last 3 months have seen a dramatic increase in numbers as people started to move around more freely, and many with contempt for the few measures still in place. With other European countries like Austria and Greece imposing testing on travellers from Bulgaria, the number of self paid PCR tests has gone up .
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 and hotels have re-opened with new measures in place to welcome both local and international guests.
What travel restrictions in place?
The flight plan to and from Sofia Airport has gradually been opening up since 1st June. Only passengers are allowed into the Terminal Buildings after a temperature check.
For up to date statistics - check the website coronavirus.bg
Information changes by the hour - we are trying to update the information as often as possible, but ask for your understanding.
Sources for further information
World Health Organisation
Bulgarian Ministry of Health (in Bulgarian)
Latest statistics: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
Remember to be informed, behave sensibly, follow government guidelines and practice good hygiene. Above all stay healthy
Distance, discipline and disinfection!