SOFIA, March 22 (Reuters) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on Sunday partially vetoed a state of emergency law intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus, saying some of the measures would create more problems than solutions.
The law was passed on Friday by parliament, which last week declared a state of emergency until April 13, closing schools, bars and restaurants to ensure social distancing among Bulgaria’s 7 million people. Parks and playgrounds have also been closed and non-essential inter-city travel banned.
The law also grants the army the right to help curb the movement people in large groups, and allows mobile operators’ location data to be used to track those put under quarantine.
Radev, a former former air force commander, said the restrictions would increase anxiety and a sense of crisis among people already worried about Bulgaria’s lack of resources to deal with the virus, adding: “No battle is won through fear.”
He said the law failed to do enough for the most vulnerable and worst affected people: “The lack of adequate measures will bring about a situation where hunger will prevail over fear and the consequences will be destructive.”
He said he shared the understanding that the Armed Forces should help society, “but now they are being entrusted with extraordinary powers without consulting the Supreme Commander-in-Chief”.
And he said the law undermined free speech.
Amendments to the Penal Code foresee up to three years’ jail and a fine of up to 10,000 leva ($5,500) for disseminating untrue information about an epidemic.
Radev also said a cap on prices approved by parliament threatened to block business activity and prevent an expected fall in the price of fuel and electricity.
Radev’s role is largely limited to heading the armed forces, vetoing legislation, signing international treaties and appointing ambassadors.
A vote of at least 121 votes in the 240-seat parliament is needed to overturn the veto. ($1 = 1.8285 leva) (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Kevin Liffey)