Bulgaria says third COVID-19 wave is easing, lifts some restrictions

SOFIA, April 8 (Reuters) - Bulgaria will reopen schools, restaurants and cinemas from Monday after the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic showed some signs of easing, Health Minister Kostadin Angelov said on Thursday.

Shopping malls will open later next week and bars and nightclubs, closed since November, will be able to welcome partygoers at 50% of their capacity from April 29.

The Balkan country of 7 million people registered 3,556 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, slightly below an average of about 4,000 infections in the previous three weeks.

“We are witnessing the first steps of the end of the third wave,” Angelov said, adding that classrooms will reopen under a special attendance schedule to prevent crowding.

The third wave of the pandemic was severe for Bulgaria, which has the second-highest coronavirus-related death rate in the European Union after Hungary, according to scientific online publication Our World in Data.

It has had 364,419 reported cases, including 14,034 deaths in total.

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Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia Editing by Matthew Lewis