World News

Bulgaria will not extend state of emergency, but some curbs stay - minister

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria will not extend a state of emergency past its May 13 expiry date but some coronavirus restrictions will remain in force for two more months, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said on Monday.

Bulgaria, declared the state of emergency on March 13 to try to stem the spread of the virus with travel bans, the closure of educational establishments and many businesses, as well allowing the police to intervene against those breaking the rules.

The country, with a population of nearly 7 million, has so far confirmed 1,652 cases of the illness and 78 deaths.

“We are moving towards actions related to the gradual restoration of social and economic life, with a focus on measures that will remain in place,” Goranov told a news conference.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Sunday the country was planning to lift a ban on people travelling outside their local communities on Wednesday as it begins easing the restrictions.

In mid-March, Bulgaria closed all schools, bars, restaurants, hotels, cultural and sports centres and gyms, as well as shops, apart from food and drug stores.

It also prohibited socialising in public spaces and introduced obligatory quarantine for most people entering the country.

The government on Monday approved a draft bill to amend the Health Act that will give the health minister the power to impose stricter measures to deal with the virus or relax existing restrictions, depending on how the outbreak develops.

The minister will also have the right to declare an epidemic emergency, if required. The bill is expected to be put to parliament on Tuesday.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alison Williams