Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Bulgaria authorities maintain some measures to prevent spread of COVID-19 indefinitely. Face masks mandatory in public, April 12-26.

This alert affects Bulgaria

This alert began 11 Apr 2020 20:51 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions

Summary
As of April 11, authorities are maintaining measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19; the measures will be in place indefinitely. Authorities announced from April 12-26 that wearing a face mask will be mandatory in public; those who do not have face masks can wear scarves. Authorities also extended the state of emergency until at least May 13.

Authorities previously introduced numerous measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Residents may only leave their homes to procure essential items, walk dogs, or seek emergency medical care. Additionally, nonessential travel between towns and cities is prohibited, with the exception of emergency services personnel, security forces, and workers in other essential services. All nonessential businesses are closed. Essential businesses include supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks. Persons under the age of 60 are prohibited from going to grocery stores 0830-1030 daily. Residents are prohibited from visiting various public spaces, including parks, playgrounds, and indoor and outdoor sporting facilities. Residents may not gather in groups of more than two persons. All education facilities are closed.

In addition to the EU-wide 30-day ban on non-EU citizens entering the region, Bulgarian authorities have temporarily barred entry to nonresident persons traveling from Austria, Spain, Italy, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Luxembourg; it remains unclear as to when this measure will end. Authorities are likely to further increase restrictions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by the government of Bulgaria correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Coronavirus Bulgaria: coronavirus.bg

World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int