Happy Baba Marta! On the day Bulgarians celebrate the end of winter and rebirth by wearing traditional red-white ribbons called "martenitsi," the mood in the country is mixed. On the one hand, restaurants and bars are reopening and will be working until 11pm at 50 percent capacity. This may excite those tired of home confinement, but also worries others - including health specialists - who fear a new, stronger wave of Covid-19 infections overwhelming hospitals.
The reopening happens just a month before the upcoming parliamentary elections and after 1,5 months of gradually increasing infection rates. A potential spike in sickness around 4 April may lead to a lower turnout, which ought to worry the anti-establishment parties. Also on the election front, tomorrow is the last day for parties to submit their candidates. So far, we know the leaders of party lists by region, but on Tuesday all names will be clear.
Vaccination "Green corridors" reopen and then close again due to lack of shots
"Green corridors" that allow people to pop up and get Covid-19 vaccinations without signing up with their GPs beforehand reopened on Monday, after shutting down earlier last week due to insufficient available jabs. The reopening, however, only lasted a few hours in many places, as medics in the Military Medical Academy and other hospitals around the country reported they have already run out of shots again. The "Green corridors" opened on 19 February on the personal order of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov after public authorities failed to administer sufficient vaccines to priority groups in the preceding weeks. This left Bulgaria trailing all other countries in numbers of vaccinations.
Environmentalists protest against potential construction on Bulgaria's longest beach
On Monday, citizens and environmentalists from three cities - Sofia, Plovdiv and Ruse - will protest against a legal amendment that opens the possibility of new real estate developments in the Natura 2000-protected sand dunes of the "Kamchiya" protected zone. The protest, organized by the environmentalist organizations "For the Nature - Bulgaria," "Green laws" and "Sea without concrete" was sparked by the government deciding to revamp an ordinance that safeguarding the protected zone from new construction. The protesting organizations call for a total moratorium on new real estate developments within 1 km range of the shoreline, as well as the return of all privatized land in protected zones back to the state.
Ex-Prime Minister's plan to end Bulgaria-N. Macedonia spat backfires in Skopje
A plan to end hostilities between Bulgaria and N. Macedonia announced by N. Macedonian ex-Prime Minister Ljubcho Georgievski on 27 February backfired in his home country, after current PM Zoran Zaev rejected it on Monday. The plan that would have seen N. Macedonia "accept the historic truth" of Bulgarian ancestry and Bulgaria, in turn, accept "modern realities" of a separate N. Macedonian identity and language, was generally welcomed in Sofia, but fell on deaf ears on Mr Georgievski's home turf. Both the government of SDSM and the opposition of VMRO-DPMNE, as well as N. Macedonian media either flatly rejected it or ignored it altogether. Bulgaria has been blocking Skopje's EU accession bid due to historic and linguistic arguments.