The latest updates and guides to the current coronavirus situation as of 12 April 2021, 20:00.
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Written by Anastasiia Dehtiarova, Bozhidar Ivanov, Minka Paraskevova and Toni P. Lyubenova, edited by Lindsay Martin and Scott Green, photo by Anastasiia Dehtiarova.
What is the current situation?
On 26 January, the emergency epidemic situation in Bulgaria was extended until 30 April.
From 1 April:
– theatres, cinemas, galleries, and the like will be allowed to open at 30% capacity. The same goes for gyms, public pools, sports clubs, dance schools. Cafes and restaurants will open too but will only serve customers in the outdoor areas. Social distancing applies.
– From April 1 to April 12, non-food shops with a retail area of over 300 sq.m will open but will only work with customers in the outdoor areas.
-On 12 April all students from 1st to 12th grade will resume in-person classes.
-Kindergartens and children’s nurseries will reopen on April 5.
Do you need a PCR test for a health checkup or traveling? Our community on Facebook Foreigners in Sofia & Friends has some suggestions for clinics and waiting times. Are you traveling to or within Europe? Check Re-open Europe for the latest updates about the regulations
Vaccination in Bulgaria has begun, with queues forming in front of vaccination points in some of the major cities. In Sofia, people can receive immunisation with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in Pirogov hospital on Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 am to 5 pm.
MBAL Sv. Sofia
MVR Medical Institute
MBAL National Cardiological Hospital
Orthopedic university Hospital Prof. B. Boychev
Prof. Ivan Kirov
Acibadem CityClinic Cardiovascular Centre
Tsaritsa Ioana – Isul
National Oncology Hospital
Resbiomed Eye Clinic
Avicena Medical Centre
Sanus 2000 Medical Centre
Lora Medical Centre
MedCross Medical Centre
Orange Medical Centre
Medical Center European Cardiology
Generali Dental Medical Centre
DKS Sveta Anna
Greece extends its entry restrictions until 19 April: it requires all passengers to present a negative PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before arrival, and self-isolate for 7 days.
Italy extends its 5-day quarantine requirement for passengers from Bulgaria until 30 April. From 6 April, North Macedonia introduces a strict curfew between 20:00 and 05:00 for the duration of two weeks.
From 30 March, arrivals to Germany must present a negative PCR test, taken up to 48 hours before departing. From 1 April, arrivals to Iceland must self-isolate in a hotel for 5 days, as well as present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before departing, take a test on arrival and another test at the end of the 5-day period. Between 1 April and 15 April, Portugal introduces a 14-day quarantine for arrivals from Bulgaria, as well as requiring a negative PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before departing.
Transit passengers in France are no longer required to present a negative PCR test when entering by plane. Greece extends its entry restrictions until 5 April – all arrivals need to present a negative PCR test, as well as self-isolate for 7 days.
Romania introduces a 20:00 curfew in areas where the infection numbers are high. Bulgarian arrivals to Czech Republic need to present a negative PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before arriving. They can no longer use an antigen test.
From 15 March, Turkey will require all arrivals by plane to fill out a registration form up to 72 hours before entering the country. Norway extends its entry restrictions until 7 April: only Norwegian citizens and foreigners with settled status can enter the country.
Romania no longer requires a negative PCR test for transit passengers with their own vehicle.
From 22 March all arrivals from Bulgaria to Switzerland must self-isolate for 10 days.
From 6 March to 6 April, Italy introduces new measures: arrivals from Bulgaria need to present a negative Covid test, taken no more than 48 hours before departing, when entering the country.
From 1 March, Czech Republic will require a negative rapid antigen test (taken no more than 24 hours before departure) test or a negative PCR test (taken no more than 72 hours before departure) for transit passengers.
From 22 February, Bulgarian citizens can enter Switzerland with either a negative PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before flying, or a rapid antigen test, taken 24 hours before departure.
From 17 February, all arrivals to Slovakia must self-isolate for 14 days. On the 8th day they may take a PCR test, and if it is negative, they can end self-isolating.
From 15 February, all arrivals to Portugal must present a negative PCR test, taken no more than 72 hours before entering the country.
To limit the spread of the new strains of Covid, Turkey requires all passengers who have been to England or Denmark in the 10 days before arriving to self-isolate for 14 days. Passengers who have been to South Africa or Brazil in the 10 days before arriving must self-isolate in state-owned facilities.
From 13 February, arrivals to Slovenia are required to present a negative PCR test (taken up to 48 hours before travel) or a negative rapid antigen test (taken up to 24 hours) if they come from red zone countries.
From 22 February, all plane arrivals to Canada are required to present a negative PCR test, as well as take another test at the airport, and spend 3 days in a supervised hotel until the results of the test arrive.
From 8 February, Switzerland requires all arrivals by plane to present a negative PCR test. If arrivals are from a high risk area, the test is mandatory regardless of the method of transport.
From 7 February until 28 February, all arrivals to Denmark by plane must self-isolate for 10 days after arriving in the country.
From 5 February, Czech Republic will require a negative PCR or antigen test for arrivals, taken not more than 48 hours before the trip.
From 6 February until 31 March, all foreign citizens arriving to Sweden must present a negative PCR or antigen test.
From 10 February, passengers from high risk areas, including Bulgaria, will have to present a negative PCR or antigen test when arriving into Austria.
Switzerland will require a negative PCR test for all arrivals to the country from 8 February.
Israel‘s borders remain closed until 8 February.
France will require a negative PCR test for transit passengers.
From 30 January, Germany forbids arrivals from countries with a large number of cases of new strains of Covid-19, including England, Ireland, Brazil, Portugal and South Africa. The measure will remain in place at least until 17 February.
Czech Republic closes its borders to all foreign visitors from 30 January, unless they can prove that they work, study, visit a relative, or participate in a government-approved event.
Norway introduces full lockdown of Oslo and nine other municipalities on 23 January.
From 23 January to 1 February, Belgium prohibits all unessential travel to and from the country.
From 25 January, Israel has banned all incoming and outgoing international flights at Ben Gurion International Airport.
From 24 January, France will require arrivals from the European Union to present a negative PCR test, taken 72 hours before the trip.
Greece extends its travel restrictions until 8 February. Arrivals are required to present a negative PCR test, taken 72 hours before their trip, as well as a completed PLF form with a QR code.
Germany extends its lockdown until 14 February.
The Netherlands introduces a double test for high risk areas, including Bulgaria. From 23 January, passengers arriving in the country will have to present a negative rapid antigen test, taken 4 hours before boarding, as well as a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before traveling.
From 18 January, Norway introduces a mandatory PCR or antibody test for passengers arriving in the country, which have been in a high risk area within the past 14 days. Passengers still need to register online before arriving in the country.
Austria has extended its lockdown until 7 February.
From 18 January, arrivals to England and Scotland will be required to present a negative PCR, LAMP or antibody test when entering the country.
From 14th January, Serbia no longer requires a negative PCR test for Bulgarians entering the country.
From 26 January, the USA will require a negative Covid-19 test for all arrivals by air, or a document confirming they have already recovered from the virus. From 16 January, Ireland will require a negative PCR test for all arrivals to the country. The mandatory 14-day quarantine remains for all arrivals from high risk areas, including Bulgaria.
On 11 January, Germany introduced a mandatory PCR test for arrivals from risk areas, including Bulgaria. The requirement for a 10-day quarantine remains in place.
From 11 January, all international arrivals to England and Scotland are required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure.
On 17 December, Spain extends the period for recognition of expired Bulgarian personal documents. The Bulgarian government agreed to add 360 BGN to the monthly salaries of the first-line general practitioners; provide 156 mln BGN to small, medium and micro enterprises that have suspended or limited their activities as a result of the orders of the Minister of Health in connection with the anti-epidemic measures; allocate 56 mln BGN to support the tourism industry affected by the pandemic.
On 11 December, The European Commission published detailed information on vaccines against COVID-19.
From 4 December, Sweden recognizes expired Bulgarian ID cards. From 3 December, Czech Republic updates the requirements to enter the country, including for tourism or family visits for the Christmas holidays. From 3 December, a referral for a PCR test is issued after a positive result of a rapid antigen test.
Are you traveling to or within Europe? Check Re-open Europe for the latest updates about the regulations.
Temporarily, tickets will be again sold by the controllers on the public transport vehicles, until more ticket selling points will be added across the city. Follow Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova’s Facebook page for more news.
More information can be found on coronavirus.bg.
You can consult all orders of the Minister of Health on their website (in Bulgarian).
Can I donate or volunteer?
The Ministry of Health has opened a donation account to raise funds to support the operation of hospitals during the emergency. The donation will provide safety kits for working medical staff, supplies, and equipment, including respirators. You can donate here:
Bulstat code of the Ministry: BG 000695317
The Bulgarian Red Cross is also providing packages of food for low-income families and collects donations.
Another new platform from the National Crisis Headquarters Dobrovolets.BG collects donations and recruits volunteers.
What’s the traveling situation?
What are the quarantine conditions? What are the legal arrangements if we work from home?
Most businesses are advised to work from home. Especially the ones who deal with a high number of people, such as educational institutions and centers, banks, culture, and entertainment places. If your employer cannot offer distance working options you may be entitled to annual paid or unpaid leave. Unfortunately, the decision is solely in the hands of your employer. Statistics show that the number of layoffs and reduced working places has increased for the past couple of weeks.
What to do if you suspect you have coronavirus?
It’s a good idea to talk to a specialist if you have symptoms such as high fever, cough, joint or muscle pain, sore throat, or difficulty breathing.
The first thing to do is to contact your GP via the phone. Stay at home and do not visit any hospitals or medical clinics. This is very important to prevent other people from possible infection.
If you do not have a GP, then you can proceed in the following ways:
- First, find out your regional health inspectorate and call them. If you cannot find it online (search ‘RZI Sofia’ in Google), take step 2 and call the Ministry of Health to inquire.
- Call 112 (the national emergency center) to seek help or get information about the latest restrictions enforced by the Bulgarian Ministry of Health.
- Call the 24 hours COVID-19 hotline at +35928078757 to reach an expert epidemiologist and discuss your case, symptoms, what to do, etc.
Your GP or doctor in charge may issue you a sick leave for the period of your treatment according to the specific circumstances. If you put yourself in voluntary quarantine due to a visit to a risky destination, such as Italy or China, your GP or Regional Health Inspection Office is entitled to issue your sick leave.
Where can I order food?
From 6 May, several state-of-emergency restrictions will be removed. In particular, from 6 May, visits to outdoor areas (gardens, terraces, etc.) of restaurants, fast food venues, drinking establishments, and coffee shops are allowed, subject to the established anti-epidemic measures. The shops are mainly operating as usual (face masks are obligatory).
Here are some suggestions for food delivery websites:
Is there some entertainment online?
Our team put together a guide on what to do during your quarantine at home.
Will the government help the businesses in trouble?
The Bulgarian Finance Minister has announced the government is working on taking measures to alleviate pressure on affected businesses during the COVID-19 emergency. Some of the early measures include an extension of the deadlines for the annual accounting balance and local tax rebates until mid-year. He suggested that businesses affected by limited consumption and supply chain disruptions do not cut on staff. The government can support small and medium-sized enterprises with a budget of about 10 bln BGN.
To avoid large groups of people and also support small and medium-sized businesses, people are advised to shop for food and necessities from neighborhood stores.
The Bulgarian law has adopted measures to compensate for the businesses affected by the epidemic. Businesses that do not have a direct ban on activity (the ban is imposed on businesses in the agricultural sector, financial and insurance activities, government, education, and social work) can apply if their income in the month preceding the application has decreased by 20 % compared to the same month in 2019. If the employer wishes to benefit from the compensation, he cannot dismiss any of his employees for the period during which the company receives compensation. This prohibition of redundancies applies to both compensated employees and non-compensated employees.
What about sick leave?
The Health Minister explained that people returning from infected areas must call their employers and request leave. Only people who show symptoms and need to be hospitalized will receive compulsory sick leaves. The ministry is currently working on the current regulation of leave and working hours so that the situation does not severely impact workers.