It was a chaotic Wednesday. Many people simply found the new anti-COVID-19 restrictions, planned for Thursday, to be incomprehensible. Others had many questions. The fact that the Health Ministry's website crashed only compounded it all.
Yesterday, Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov announced measures stipulating that anyone aged 12 or over would need the green certificate to access indoor public venues. The rules were subsequently amended and - in the ministry's order, published after 8 pm - the age was revised upwards to 18 years old. The new rules, however, triggered a protest in the center of Sofia, as well as political attacks.
Protest and reactions against new measures
Yesterday, Katsarov had announced that "green certificates" would be required for entering public venues from Thursday. Those eligible for green certificates would be those who have had a cycle of vaccination, those who already had the virus within the last six months and recipients of a negative PCR test over the past 72 hours.
Another measure proposed was that schools would close in those municipalities where the number of people who had caught COVID-19 in the last two weeks rose above 750 per 100 000 people. To cite one example, the figure for Sofia today was 812 per 100 000, announced the director of Sofia Health Inspectorate d-r Penchev. So, from tomorrow, many more pupils will probably be studying online.
The new measures met strong political and public opposition. A protest against the new restrictions, organized by nationalist parties "Vazrahzdane" and "Ataka", took place in Sofia city center. Many Bulgarians, even doctors and nurses, joined the demonstration because of their poor working conditions and low wages. Business representatives have also threatened to organize protests.
Political calls for Health Minister's resignation
The ex-ruling party GERB and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) have called for the resignation of Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov, citing yesterday's anti-COVID-19 restrictions.
GERB called Katsarov "incompetent" and described the requirement of a green certificate as a violation of human rights. Their former coalition partners from IMRO said they believe that the measures are a form of "social genocide". The BSP also highlighted what they saw as Katsarov's botched response, adding that citizens' constitutional rights should not be restricted.
Bulgarian citizen arrested after European Public Prosecutor's Office operation
The European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) has coordinated an operation in which law enforcement authorities carried out searches and arrests, seizing more than €13 million in Germany, Italy and Bulgaria. The 10 detainees are suspected of forming a criminal organization and evading taxes.
The main accusation is that the participants in the scheme have resold cars many times in different EU countries, which has allowed them to claim paid VAT and a refund. Losses from tax fraud are still being determined, but are estimated at more than 13 million euros. No names were revealed and the Bulgarian participation was believed to be peripheral.