Bulgaria has been the first European country to bar all Americans from entering its territory following the European Council announcement removing the U.S. off the “green travel list”.
“Under the Bulgarian Ministry of Health order, 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. That means persons arriving from the United States, regardless of their citizenship, are prohibited from entering Bulgaria unless they meet an exception,” the embassy announced in a press release on August 31.
It’s necessary to clarify two important aspects of the announcement.
First of all, both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans were barred from visiting Bulgaria. Thus, visitors who had bought tickets to travel to this country should talk to their airlines to reschedule flights or better yet, ask for a refund.
Second of all, although the press release says “unless they meet an exception”, such an exception only considers essential workers.
“Foreign officials, diplomats, members of the administrative and technical staff of foreign missions, officials of international organizations, military personnel, and humanitarian workers performing their duties, medical professionals and researchers, social workers, and their supervisors, and their family members,” are the ones considered exceptions for the Bulgarian government.
The U.S. was not the only banned country. Other 51 countries including Israel, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Maldives were also affected by the measure.
The restriction might look extreme but Bulgaria has relevant reasons to proceed this way.
The nation has the lowest percentage of vaccinated people in Europe. So far, only 15% of its population has been fully immunized where the average is 52%.
Besides, Bulgaria ranks second as the country with more deaths per 100,000 population according to data collected by The Economist.
The only country that surpasses this figure is Peru in Latin America.
More than 18,950 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic. 54 more deaths were reported over the last 24 hours.
“There is no place for panic. The situation is serious, but not out of control. The low percentage of vaccinations forces us to impose these measures,” said interim Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov when asked about the new curfews and tourist venues restrictions.