Restaurant and hotel owners took to the streets in Bulgaria to protest the tightening of COVID-19 measures in the country, which are due to come into effect from September 7th to the end of October.
“We will have a big protest in Sofia and from then on we will block the whole country every day,” the president of the Bulgarian restaurant association, Richard Alibegov, told the national radio.
“The low vaccination rate is forcing us to take new measures against the spread of the virus. Both the number of hospitalized patients, including those in intensive care units, and the mortality rate are increasing. Eight-five percent of virus victims are people over 60. Our last place in terms of vaccinations [in the EU] naturally gives us first place in terms of mortality from COVID-19, ”said the caretaker Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov.
Bars and restaurants are allowed to work from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., the distance between the back of the chairs must be 1.5 meters and no more than six people are allowed to sit at one table. Cinemas and theaters operate at half capacity indoors, while indoor weddings and celebrations can accommodate up to 30 people and outdoors up to 60 people.
“We are reluctant to implement these measures, but we are being forced by the situation,” said the minister, adding that the duration and severity of the measures depend on how people comply with the restrictions.
The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce has already insisted that clear compensation mechanisms for affected companies be disclosed before restrictions are imposed. In a letter to the health and economy ministers, the organization called on the state to be the first to vaccinate officials and thus set an example for the private sector.