May 12, 2020 / 5:56 PM / 18 days ago

Bulgaria to end state of emergency, but some restrictions remain

FILE PHOTO: Workers disinfect an escalator in Serdika metro station, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Sofia, Bulgaria, April 8, 2020. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/File Photo

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria will end its state of emergency on Wednesday, though some restrictions will remain in place and the government will be able to declare an emergency once again if the COVID-19 outbreak escalates, parliament has decided.

Under the new bill approved by lawmakers on Tuesday, the health minister will still be able to place infected people under quarantine and impose penalties on those who fail to observe them.

The Balkan country declared the state of emergency on March 13 to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, imposing travel bans, prohibiting socialising in public spaces and closing schools, restaurants and bars.

The government will gradually reopen cinemas, museums and other recreational venues, but they will be subject to restrictions that support social distancing.

It is also allowing the re-opening of outdoor bars and outdoor restaurants, guest houses and small hotels. They would all have to comply with required sanitary measures.

Lawmakers, eager to support the hard-hit tourism sector, voted to allow state subsidies for tour operators who bring foreign holidaymakers to the country’s resorts with charter flights. They also required operators of Black Sea beaches to cut the cost of umbrellas and sunbeds.

Bulgaria, which has a population of nearly 7 million, has confirmed 2,023 cases of COVID-19 and 94 deaths.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Pravin Char

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