Bulgaria makes virus pass mandatory for indoor venues

Health Headlines

An employee has her certification checked as Italy’s new “Green Pass” vaccination requirement for employees to enter their offices became mandatory, at the Trenitalia, Italian train company offices, in Rome, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. From Friday, certification is required for public and private workplaces. Both employees and employers risk fines if they don’t comply. Public sector workers can be suspended if they show up five times without a Green Pass. The pass is already required in Italy to enter museums, theaters, gyms and indoor restaurants, as well as to take long-distance trains and buses or domestic flights. The passes show that a person has had least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, or recovered from the virus in the last six months, or has tested negative in the last 48 hours. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria is introducing a COVID-19 “Green Certificate” as a mandatory requirement for access to restaurants, theaters, cinemas, concert halls, gyms, clubs and shopping malls as the country faces a surge in coronavirus infections.

Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov explained Tuesday that the new digital or paper health pass certifies that its holder has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from COVID-19 or has tested negative.

“The number of infected is growing, the number of deaths is also increasing, which forces us to take additional measures,” he said, warning that venues which do not follow the rules will be closed.

The Balkan country of 7 million reported 4,979 new COVID-19 cases and 214 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, furthering the rise in new infections since the start of September.

According to official data, Bulgaria has had the highest COVID-19 mortality rate in the 27-nation European Union in the past two weeks and 94% of those deaths were unvaccinated people.

Health officials blame public mistrust in vaccines and the government — just one in four adults is fully vaccinated — for the current infection spread.

The government is also making the green certificate mandatory for staff at hospitals and nursing homes and university students will need it to be allowed into in-person classes.

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