COVID-19: Situation update in Bulgaria

Last updated: 26 May 2020

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria has declared an emergency epidemic situation in the entire territory of the country for one month as of 14 May 2020. This measure follows the end of a two-month state of emergency which was adopted by the National Assembly on 13 March 2020.

In compliance with the regulations issued by the Ministry of Health regarding the suspension of all educational activities in the country, Sofia University has undertaken the following measures:

  • All face-to-face classroom activities (lectures, seminars, exams etc.) remain suspended until the end of the summer semester (5 June 2020).
  • Partial extension of the summer semester:
    1) The summer semester will be extended and will end on 12 June 2020 at the Faculty of Law. Face-to-face exams are permitted in the period from 15 June to 10 July 2020.
    2) The summer semester will be extended and will end on 26 June 2020 at the following faculties: Faculty of Biology, Faculty of Theology, Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, Faculty of Physics, and Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy. Face-to-face classroom activities at these faculties are permitted in the period from 8 to 26 June 2020. Face-to-face exams are permitted in the period from 29 June to 26 July 2020.
  • Information about exams: please contact your lecturers for more information about the exams.
  • All conferences, seminars, ceremonies, cultural and sport activities, and other group gatherings and public events held at Sofia University remain suspended until 14 June 2020.
  • All faculty members, staff, students, and guests are strongly recommended not to leave the country and to minimize their travel in Bulgaria. In case a foreign lecturer, researcher, student or guest leaves Bulgaria during his/her stay in the university, the agreed mobility, internship or visit is considered terminated.
  • All faculty members, students and administrative staff that have traveled abroad and have entered Bulgaria, are obliged to undergo a 14-day quarantine period after their arrival in the country.
  • Access of students and guests to the educational buildings of Sofia University is prohibited until 25 May 2020.

Additionally, the Ministry of Health has imposed the following anti-epidemic measures on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria:

Please note: The anti-epidemic measures are being updated permanently according to the assessment of the situation. Their violation could result in a monetary fine or a prison sentence.

  • The wearing of a face mask in closed public places, including public transport, is mandatory.
  • It is forbidden for people under 60 years old to visit food stores and pharmacies between 8:30 and 10:30 AM every day.
  • Some kinds of group activities, including competitive sport games, cultural gatherings, entertaining and scientific events (e.g. theaters, concerts, conferences, etc.) are suspended.
  • Visits to outdoor restaurants and coffee shops (terraces and gardens) are permitted in respect of the sanitary requirements. Restaurants and fast food restaurants may deliver food by strictly observing all sanitary and hygienic requirements. Visits to indoor restaurants (including fast food restaurants) remain suspended.
  • Visits to commercial centres and shopping malls, sport and recreation centres, museums, galleries, libraries and cinemas are permitted in respect of the sanitary requirements. In case of queuing in commercial or administrative areas, sufficient distance has to be maintained.
  • Individual and collective outdoor non-competitive sport activities are permitted in respect of the sanitary requirements (sufficient distance between individuals). Public sport facilities in parks shall not be used.

Entry and Exit Restrictions

Please note: These restrictions are changing often and quickly. International travel has become more complex and unpredictable. Your travel plans may be disrupted, and you may be placed in quarantine or denied entry to some countries.

The Bulgarian government has issued a ban on the entry into the country as of 14 May 2020. This includes third-country nationals at all border crossing points with any means of transport, including aviation, maritime, rail, and road.
These restrictions do not apply to Bulgarian citizens and their family members, or persons with permanent or long-term residence permits to stay in Bulgaria and members of their families; citizens of EU member states and countries which are part of the Schengen area; healthcare workers, health researchers; persons employed in the carriage of goods where necessary; diplomats, personnel of international organisations, military personnel, humanitarian professionals; persons traveling for humanitarian reasons; seasonal workers in agricultural and tourism sector; transit passengers who hold a permanent or long-term residence permits to stay in another EU Member State.

Most of the travelers arriving from abroad are are placed in compulsory quarantine for 14 days (or more) at home or in a hospital.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is advising Bulgarian citizens to refrain from traveling abroad unless absolutely necessary.

Many countries (including neighbouring Serbia, Romania, North Macedonia, Turkey, and Greece) are introducing entry or movement restrictions.

Sofia University recommends all international students and staff to follow the recommendations and instructions of the Bulgarian authorities and their respective national authorities.

Dear Erasmus students, we would like to remind you that the following weeks shall not be considered as vacation or free time. That is why we urge you not to travel and visit friends or family, neither to go to meetings or parties. Use the time to study, write papers, read books or even watch series.

To support the prevention of further spread of COVID-19, all Erasmus students are strongly recommended to stay at their accommodation as much as possible, to avoid crowded gatherings, especially in closed places, and to follow the prescriptions of the World Health Organization regarding their own heath and safety (see below).

Regarding the consequences for Erasmus+ mobility activities, the European Commission has issued guidance to Erasmus+ beneficiaries that they can invoke the “force majeure” clauses. This will allow them to assess the possibility to accept additional costs up to a maximum grant amount. It may also enable them to postpone the planned activities by up to 12 months per project. National authorities are also informed.

The Erasmus+ Office of Sofia University remains in contact with all incoming students and partner universities remotely, via e-mail.

Distance learning

Sofia University has transitioned to online instruction for all graduate and undergraduate classes, to the greatest extent possible.

In relation to this, Erasmus students are advised to contact their professors by e-mail and ask them how course(s) will be organised.

This is valid for all courses you actually attend no matter if you have submitted the During mobility part of your LA or not, and for which you have not yet received instructions by your lecturer.

It is important to contact the professors by e-mail as soon as possible, so you can continue the education process.

If you have your Learning Agreement (During Mobility part) already signed, please send it us by e-mail: istrahilov@admin.uni-sofia.bg and nmarinova@admin.uni-sofia.bg. Please keep in mind that signed means signed by you, by your Faculty coordinator at Sofia University, and by your Home university coordinator. Therefore, if the Learning Agreement (During Mobility part) is not signed, you will be able to submit it by 10 April 2020.

These provisions will be subject to further review based on the assessment of the situation. Updates will follow when necessary.

Protection against infection

Please refer to the information provided by the World Health Organization:

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

– Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
– Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
– Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
– Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
– Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance (national 24-hour information line for Bulgaria: +359 2 807 87 57).
– Follow the directions of your local health authority.
– Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.

In case of suspicion of infection

If you suspect that you became infected with the virus, you should follow the guidelines outlined here:

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover. Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance the national information line (+359 2 807 87 57) and inform about any recent travel or contact with travelers. Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

National 24-hour information line for Bulgaria (Ministry of Health):
+359 2 807 87 57

Sofia Regional Health Inspectorate:
+359 2 832 91 62
+359 2 832 91 81
+359 2 8130 482

For more information on COVID-19

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: Questions & Answers
World Health Organization: Questions & Answers

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