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Bulgaria’s PM fined after breaking his own government’s COVID-19 rules

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Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov   -   Copyright  Ludovic Marin, Pool Photo via AP
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Bulgaria's prime minister Boïko Borissov is to be fined for entering a church without a mask, according to the country's health ministry.

Under rules brought in by his own government, Borissov, his staff and some journalists will face fines of as much as €150.

The compulsory use of facemasks in public indoor spaces was reinstated in Bulgaria on Tuesday because of an increase in coronavirus cases.

"A fine will be imposed on the prime minister, his staff and journalists for failing to comply with measures against the epidemic and in particular for violating the decree on the compulsory wearing of masks in closed public places," the health ministry said.

Borissov went to the Rila monastery in the south-western part of the country on Tuesday for a project to renovate the road leading to this famous religious site. He spoke closely with the monastery's superior before entering the church without a mask.

The 61-year-old conservative leader has refused to wear a mask since the start of the pandemic

Bulgaria, which had imposed a containment measure as early as 8 March, had been one of the European countries least affected by the pandemic. However, with the rapid lifting of restrictions at the end of May, there has been an average of more than 100 new infections per day recently, compared to 20-40 during the containment period.

The health ministry had already imposed a fine of €1,500 euros on Monday on Borissov's conservative Gerb party for holding a meeting on Saturday in a crowded room in the presence of the prime minister.

A similar fine was imposed on the Socialist opposition party, four of whose members were infected at another meeting.

Bulgaria has seen 3,984 infections as of Tuesday, and 207 deaths.