Bulgaria, first European country to ban US travelers again

Bulgaria was the first European country to prevent all Americans from entering its territory after the European Council’s announcement to remove the US from the “green travel list”.

“According to the order of the Bulgarian Ministry of Health, countries are classified as green, orange or red zones based on their COVID-19 risk. As of September 1, 2021, the United States will be considered a Red Zone country. This means that people arriving from the United States, regardless of their citizenship, are prohibited from entering Bulgaria unless they find an exception,” the embassy announced in a Press release on August 31st.

It is necessary to clarify two important aspects of the advertisement.

First of all, Vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans were banned from visiting Bulgaria. Thus, visitors who purchased tickets to travel to this country should talk to their airlines to reschedule flights or, better yet, request a refund.

National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria
National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria

Second of all, although the press release says “unless they meet an exception”, such exception considers essential workers only.

“Foreign officials, diplomats, administrative and technical staff members of foreign missions, employees of international organizations, military and humanitarian workers in the performance of their duties, medical professionals and researchers, social workers and their supervisors, and their families”, are those considered exceptions for the Bulgarian government.

The US was not the only country banned. Another 51 countries, including Israel, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Maldives, were also affected by the measure.

The restriction may seem extreme, but Bulgaria has relevant reasons for doing so.

The country has the lowest percentage of people vaccinated in Europe. So far, only 15% of its population has been fully immunized, where the average is 52%.

In addition, Bulgaria ranks second as the country with the most deaths per 100,000 population, according to data collected by The Economist.

The only country that surpasses this number is Peru in Latin America.

More than 18,950 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic. Another 54 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

“There is no place for panic. The situation is serious, but it’s not out of control. The low percentage of vaccinations forces us to impose these measures,” Acting Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov said when asked about the new curfews and restrictions on tourist sites.

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