What are the rules of the new emergency epidemic situation in Bulgaria?

14.05.2020

Effective today Bulgaria is no longer in a state of emergency but in an emergency epidemic situation (“EES”). The two situations differ in their legal meaning but practically there is no difference in the introduced measures. The new EES will apply until 14 June 2020.

The EES required that the Minister of Health issues new orders for the anti-epidemic measures. There are four new orders that govern different subjects:

1. Limitations on business operations (order No. 263 available here in Bulgarian)

Key points are:

  • Malls, closed sections of bars/restaurants/cafes, disco clubs remain closed until 14 June 2020;
  • Bank offices, insurance offices, grocery stores, pharmacies in malls are allowed to operate;
  • Any organized gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, unless subject to an exception;
  • Municipalities are empowered to introduce special measures locally.

2. Obligations on employers (order No. 262 available here in Bulgarian)

Key points are:

  • If possible, employers are still encouraged to offer work from home for their employees;
  • If work from home is not an option, then the employer has to implement at least the following measures:
    • Disinfection as per an algorithm which is adopted by the Order (appendix No. 1 thereto);
    • Employees who have symptoms of a respiratory disease shall not be allowed in the workplace (fever, coughing, runny nose, etc.);
    • Employees have to be instructed on the proper hygiene of their hands as per the rules of appendix No. 2 to the order;
    • The employer has to provide soap, water and disinfection fluids;
    • Individuals have to be provided with at least 1,5 meter of physical distance from one another;
    • Special protection measures have to be provided to the employees (masks, gloves) – based on an evaluation of the contamination risk;
  • Employees who work directly with customers have to wear a mask or a protection shield. Alternatively, a protection glass may be placed between the employee and the customer;
  • Within the stores, the following requirements have to be complied with:
    • the customers have to keep distance of at least 1,5 m, including while waiting in front of the store;
    • there needs to be disinfection fluid available for customers at the front door of the store;
    • the store is obliged to secure that there is control over the number of the individual who enter in the store; that physical distancing is complied with in and outside of the location for the waiting customers;
    • posters have to be displayed providing information on: the customers’ obligation to keep distance; their obligation to wear a mask inside; their obligation to keep their hands clean. Alternative provision of this information is also allowed (for example – audio recording);
  • The order is effective until 14 June 2020.

3. Mandatory quarantine and medical treatment (order No. 264 available here in Bulgarian)

  • Some categories of individuals who have COVID-19 are obliged to be treated in a hospital or to be under a 28-day quarantine at home;
  • Special provisions on such quarantine are provided for;
  • The order will apply until explicit revocation.

4. Limitations on travels (order No. 265 available here in Bulgarian)

  • A general ban for individuals to enter in Bulgaria until 14 June 2020. The ban has a number of exclusions which are specific and would not allow ordinary business trips between the countries;
  • If an individual enters the country, he will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine.

Further, some measures that have been in place, continue to apply, such as:

  • The compensations (60/40 measure) will be paid until 30 June 2020. All conditions and requirements remain the same;
  • The employers may unilaterally order work from home for their employees;
  • The employers may introduce reduced working hours subject to the more simple procedure in the Labor Code;
  • The employers may unilaterally impose the use of paid leave for their employees;
  • Some categories of protected employees may not be refused a request to use leave

For further information contact:

Mileslava Bogdanova-Misheva, Senior associate
Mileslava.Bogdanova@tbk.bg