Bulgaria approves amended state of emergency law after President’s veto

epa08311312 A Bulgarian police officer checks the documents of a driver at a checkpoint outside Sofia, Bulgaria, 21 March 2020. Bulgarian authorities have declared a ban on intercity travel around the country in an effort to slow down the spread of the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and have set up checkpoints outside every major city to ensure compliance with the order. People are only allowed to travel if it is essential for work or medical reasons or if they are returning to their homes. All three exceptions must be proven with official documents. Health Minister Kiril Ananiev has also ordered the closure of parks, city gardens, playgrounds, sports facilities, and most outdoor and indoor public places. EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV

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Bulgaria’s parliament agreed on Monday to cancel some parts of a law that establishes a state of emergency to limit the spread of the coronavirus after the president wielded his veto citing concerns about its impact on the economy and on free speech.

“My decision is to impose a veto on part of the act and to return it for a reconsideration in the Bulgarian Parliament”, the presidential press office reported.

Novinite reports that the crisis requires that the institutions and the public should pool efforts. The trust which the power holders earned should be rationally utilized, it should not be a prelude to an uncontrollable exercise of power.  “The lack of staff, of equipment and capacity in our healthcare system and deficiencies in organization are compensated by extremely restrictive measures which increase the tension and aggravate the crisis itself, under which conditions the medical staff and the people in vital productions and services work. The Act attacks the last remains of the freedom of speech. Although there is no definition of false information, the Bulgarians are threatened with the imposition of heavy fines and imprisonment. The experts, journalists and citizens will be forced to impose on themselves self-censorship, moreover, in conditions of a dynamic change of our understanding of the pandemic, of its perception and the need for alternative positions. This norm may be used to interpret any uncomfortable free thought. And even more importantly – according to the adopted Act, this restriction will remain in force also after the state of emergency is over.”

Lawmakers also agreed to remove from the legislation a clause aimed at preventing profiteering by requiring retailers to sell goods at the same prices as before the state of emergency was declared.

Via Novinite / Reuters 

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