COVID pass doubts in Bulgaria amid low vaccine uptake

A man passes by replica of Michelangelo's Pieta painted on the wall of Pirogov hospital in Sofia, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021
A man passes by replica of Michelangelo's Pieta painted on the wall of Pirogov hospital in Sofia, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021 Copyright Credit: AP
By Euronews
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Only around 25% of Bulgarian adults are fully vaccinated, with health officials blaming public mistrust in vaccines and the government.

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Industry leaders in Bulgaria have threatened to protest against the current mandatory requirement for COVID-19 "green passes".

Bulgarian citizens require a health pass to enter bars, restaurants, gyms, shopping centres, and other cultural venues

But despite a surge in coronavirus infections, Bulgaria’s tourism and restaurant industry has called for the rules to be amended.

"We want to express support for the introduction of the 'green certificate' as the only alternative to a full lockdown, but not in the way it is currently," said the Bulgarian Hotel & Restaurant Association (BHRA).

"We believe that the measures imposed at the moment are discriminatory on Bulgarian business and will not lead to the desired health effect."

The association says they will hold nationwide protests on Wednesday if their demands are not met.

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

Only around 25% of Bulgarian adults are fully vaccinated, with health officials blaming public mistrust in vaccines and the government.

The rise in cases prompted the interim government to launch its digital COVID-19 “Green Certificate”, which certifies that a person has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from COVID-19, or have a negative PCR and antigen test result.

But the BHRA has also said that the certificate should legally certify that citizens have received a negative antibody test.

"We urge the state to provide free tests and the procedure for taking them. An option is to create an organisation for taking tests in pharmacies," a statement read.

The association has also stated that the "green pass" must be introduced for all industries and administrations in Bulgaria.

"As the largest employer, the state must set an example, and the effect will certainly be positive," the BHRA said.

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