With new COVID-19 infections rising steeply, Bulgaria will introduce more rigorous epidemic-control measures for two months, from September 7 to October 30.

Caretaker Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov and his deputy Alexander Zlatanov broke the news at a news briefing on Tuesday morning.

The school year will start on September 15 with in-person classes, but pupils will switch to online learning if the coronavirus situation deteriorates.

Language centers will remain open, with up to 10-person groups and all precautions observed. Dance and art schools and centres can work with up to 19 persons in a room. Children’s centres and group services for children will be suspended.

Foodservice establishments and gambling facilities will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., limited to 6 persons per table. The staff must wear masks. Night clubs and discos will be closed.

Up to 30 persons indoors and up to 60 persons outdoors may attend private parties like weddings and baptisms.

Congresses, seminars, examinations, and competitions may take place at 30 per cent seating capacity and with up to 30 persons in a room. Music festivals, folk initiatives, and other crowd-drawing events are suspended.

Fitness gyms and hydrotherapy facilities will be limited to 30 percent capacity.

Attendance of films, theatre performances, and concerts indoors will be limited to 50 percent of the seating capacity. Admissions to museums and galleries will be limited to 1 visitor per 8 sq m, with a minimum distance of 1.5 meters observed.

Capacity restrictions will be waived for all establishments where both the staff and the visitors are fully vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19, or have a 72-hours-old negative PCR test.

Indoor sports competitions will be held without an audience, and professional competitions outdoors can be watched at 30 percent capacity, with spectators spaced out in every third seat.  

Mask wearing will be mandatory at open-air retail and wholesale markets for both sellers and shoppers, with the one-way movement of visitors and letting up to 1 person per 8 sq m in the area at a time.