After a lengthy period of excruciating uncertainty and much apprehension, the holes of Bulgaria are ready to welcome this season’s inflowing wave of tourists. The pandemic-related precautions in place have naturally become one of the most widely discussed topics in the context of Bulgaria. Those preparing to indulge in the country’s lush sceneries and cultural attractions often seem concerned about the local COVID-19 pandemic management practices. In this article, Boiana-MG gives an account of what measures Bulgarian hotels are taking to keep their guests safe.
Given the fact that Bulgaria’s economy relies heavily on tourism, it’s only natural that the sector is subjected to solid regulation by the government. The official start date of the season was May 1, 2021 (although it’s the management of each hotel that is to decide whether to open at any point after this date could be viable based on the number of bookings made and similar indicators).
Shortly before, a series of legal papers were introduced to determine the procedures for dealing with the tourist inflow with due regard to the existing health concerns. These include special requirements regarding entry to the country. In particular, potential tourists will need to provide documentary evidence of vaccination, a history of recent COVID-19 illness, or a negative PCR test. Besides, guests are required to have an insurance policy covering all the essential needs that may arise due to the infection, and sign a declaration whereby they accept responsibility for any potential COVID-19-related problems.
Tourists from a number of countries, including India, Bangladesh, and Brazil are not allowed to enter Bulgaria during the summer seasons of 2021.
Hotel Anti-COVID-19 Practices
A number of restrictions have been introduced that apply to hotels across Bulgaria regardless of their ownership. These include a broad range of measures of varying complexity. It has to be mentioned, however, that the new rules have been so far adhered to very strictly with little, if any, evidence of negligence on the part of hotel management.
A number of hotels have developed their own policies based on the official regulations, which are often less forgiving than the requirements of the Ministry of Health and related authorities. It is therefore highly advisable to check the hotel’s website before booking and shortly before your potential arrival to make sure you are ready to comply with its rules.
One of the vital changes legally introduced shortly before the current tourist season began in Bulgaria was the mandatory establishment of dedicated “quarantine rooms”. That is, every hotel has singled out a certain number of rooms and/or suites to be occupied by guests exhibiting symptoms that might indicate the presence of COVID-19 infection.
Whenever a person staying at a hotel in any area of the country feels like he or she might be infected, it is his or her duty to report the state and undergo any testing as needed. Based on the result of the test, the guest can be moved to one of the quarantine rooms to stay there in isolation provided that he or she has mild to moderate symptoms. In such cases, the quarantine must not be lifted until the illness is over. The costs of staying in the dedicated room are to be covered by either the insurance company if the policy provides for this kind of compensation or the individual. Please note that the practice does not apply to guests with severe symptoms who require hospitalization.
Masks are mandatory in all public indoor settings regardless of the purpose of the room as well as the number of people present. Both hotel staff and guests are required to cover their noses and mouths with adequate masks in enclosed public spaces on the respective hotel’s premises. The usual exception for situations related to eating and drinking applies.
Many potential tourists will be relieved to find out that wearing a mask outdoors is not required in Bulgaria. However, excursion tour providers as well as certain hotels specify in their policies that masks are to be worn even out of doors.
There are no official restrictions as to the working hours of clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, and other recreational institutions that are often found in or around hotels. That is, tourists are likely to find night-time attractions open 24/7. Yet, as has already been mentioned above, different hotels have different policies that are used to balance the needs for safety and profit.
Number of People per Unit of Area
The maximum number of people to be admitted to any area within the hotel’s premises must be limited according to the governmental decree. Each room and section of the hotel is to bear a sign specifying home many people are allowed to visit it at a time. Responsible hotel staff must control the situation to make sure that the limitation is respected.
No country-wide restrictions apply as to how many of a hotel’s rooms can be occupied at a given time. The decision is to be made by each hotel individually. However, the number is unlikely to exceed 70% when the season is at its peak.
Further Related Restrictions
Many hotels in Bulgaria have direct access to the beach. It’s not uncommon for hotel staff to take care of the respective area, which means that seaside rules and restrictions related to COVID-19 deserve to be mentioned in this article.
The distance between two guests on the beach must not exceed 1.5 m, while the maximum number of umbrellas is one per 20 square meters. Each umbrella can be used by either one family of holidaymakers or two people who are not related to each other.
The summer of 2021 in Bulgaria has been marked by solid governmental regulation and high compliance on the hotel level. Paired with a number of general measures aimed at preventing the further spread of COVID-19, this promises excellent guest safety this summer holiday season.