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19 May 2020 | 09:49 PM UTC

Bulgaria: Authorities announce easing of travel restrictions with Greece and Serbia from June 1 /update 8

Bulgaria News Alert

Bulgarian authorities announce travel restrictions with Greece and Serbia to be eased from June 1; heed authorities' instructions

TIMEFRAME expected from 5/19/2020, 12:00 AM until 6/15/2020, 11:59 PM (Europe/Sofia). COUNTRY/REGION Bulgaria

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On Tuesday, May 19, the Bulgarian government announced that it had agreed to ease some of its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) travel restrictions for travelers arriving from Greece and Serbia from Monday, June 1. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stated that travelers arriving from Greece and Serbia may enter the country without undergoing an obligatory 14-day quarantine period if they are entering for business, family, or humanitarian purposes. Borissov stated that a similar arrangement would be made with Romania following approval of the measure in Romania's parliament. Bulgarian authorities are also negotiating with the Austrian and German governments to ease restrictions.

The Bulgarian government ended the state of emergency issued due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, May 13. Some restrictions remain in place, including the prohibition of socializing in public spaces. Bulgaria's government gave additional powers to the health ministry on May 4 to impose or relax measures depending on case numbers.

Restrictions started to ease in the country as of May 4. Individual outdoor sports activities are allowed, and swimming pools and tennis courts will reportedly reopen with COVID-19 prevention measures in place. Intercity travel was allowed to resume as of Wednesday, May 6.

Bulgaria's borders remain closed to all non-EU citizens, as well as individuals from Italy, Spain, France, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg. Citizens of the abovementioned countries will be allowed to transit through Bulgaria to return to their country of residence. Bulgarian nationals, family members of Bulgarian citizens, and individuals with permanent and long-term residence status in Bulgaria are exempt from the restrictions. The travel ban does not apply to nationals of EU member states and Schengen Area countries not mentioned above.

Schools and universities nationwide remain closed, and visits to nonessential businesses such as gyms, bars, and restaurants are prohibited. Shopping centers were allowed to reopen on Monday, May 18.

As of May 19, authorities have confirmed 2259 cases of COVID-19 in Bulgaria, as well as 112 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.


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