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Bulgaria makes face masks compulsory again as virus cases rise

Bulgaria ordered residents to wear protective face masks again on Monday at all indoor public places after the Balkan country recorded its highest weekly rise in novel coronavirus cases, news wire Reuters has reported. 

Bulgarian Minister of Health Kiril Ananiev attends a special European health ministers meeting on the coronavirus crisis in Brussels, Belgium, on February 13, 2020. Photo by Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com

The order, issued by Health Minister Kiril Ananiev, came just 10 days after he made the wearing of masks indoors “highly recommended” but said it was not mandatory, apart from on public transport and in pharmacies and medical establishments.

“The only purpose for doing this is to preserve the health and life of Bulgarian citizens,” Ananiev was quoted as saying by Reuters. He added that people should wear masks at shops, sports events, cinemas and theaters. Social distancing by staying 1.5 meters apart from other people is also compulsory.

Ananiev said that up to 1,000 fans would be allowed at soccer stadiums for Bulgarian league matches. The country, which has a population of nearly seven million people, has reopened restaurants and cafes while stay-home recommendations were lifted in most places.

However, Bulgaria recorded 606 new COVID-19 cases last week, the country’s highest weekly rise. As of yesterday morning, Bulgaria has recorded 3,984 cases and 207 deaths from the coronavirus.