July 9, 2020 / 10:59 AM / a month ago

Bulgaria closes night clubs, bans spectators at sports events

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian night clubs and indoor discos will close, spectators will be banned at all sports events and public gatherings will be limited to 30 people as new cases of the coronavirus have surged, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev said.

The Balkan country of 7 million people has registered 6,342 cases and 259 deaths. The number of new cases has started to rise a few weeks after the country lifted most of its restrictive measures aimed at containing the infection.

On Thursday alone, new cases jumped by 240, a record high for one day, and Ananiev said the ministry expects similar numbers in the coming days.

“We believe these measures will be enough to stop the upward trend. The increased cases are mainly due to the school proms and massive gatherings of people at one place,” Ananiev told reporters.

Dozens of people tested positive after a school prom in Veliko Tarnovo. Numerous violations of social distancing rules were reported after spectators were allowed at football games in early June.

A league match between Lokomotiv Plovdiv and CSKA Sofia on Thursday will now take place without spectators after Lokomotiv players, officials and dozens of fans tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Night clubs and discos will be allowed to work outdoors, but at 50% of their capacity and obligatory social distancing, Ananiev said. Weddings, school proms and other public gatherings could not exceed 30 people both indoors and outdoors.

Bulgaria has extended the state of epidemic emergency in the country until the end of July to allow the health minister more flexibility in issuing special orders to contain the infection.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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