SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria will allow shopping malls to reopen on Monday as part of its push to ease restrictions imposed two months ago to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Friday.
The government introduced a state of emergency on March 14 that imposed travel bans, closed schools, restaurants and shopping malls, and prompted many businesses to limit or halt operations due to restrictions and reduced demand.
It started easing the partial lockdown in late April but continued to enforce strict social measures on many of its citizens and businesses, helping prevent widespread community spread of the virus.
Bulgaria, a country with a population of less than 7 million, still requires social distancing in public places and keeps its borders closed.
After meeting with Bulgaria’s retail association, Borissov agreed that all shops in commercial centres across the country will be allowed to resume operations from Monday.
The decision comes a day after Bulgaria’s biggest business organisation, the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA)employers, expressed concerns that no date has been set for reopening of the shopping malls.
Nearly 300,000 people work in the retail sector, according to BIA, which said that many of them could go bankrupt if the malls remain closed.
As of Friday, Bulgaria has 2,138 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 102 deaths.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Angus MacSwan)