The National Assembly Passes on a Law on 20 March 2020 to Regulate the Measures during the State of Emergency

On 20 March 2020 the National Assembly passed at second reading a law which regulates the measures for prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 disease for the period of the state of emergency declared with a decision dated 13 March. In the first place, the law gives powers to the Minister of Health to introduce new measures for prevention of the spread of the disease.

For the period of the state of emergency a number of measures have also been put in place in order to guarantee that there will be no violations to the rights of citizens and legal persons, following the restrictions of certain activities and the changes in the work of courts and administrative bodies. The measures include:
– time limits in all court, arbitral and enforcement proceedings, excepting criminal ones, are suspended;
– public sales and entries into possession which have been announced by bailiffs are suspended; bank account attachments may be imposed only in limited cases;
– notaries public shall work only on emergency notary proceedings, and a schedule for notaries on duty is instituted;
– employers shall have the opportunity to temporarily suspend the activities of enterprises or of individual structural units within them; introduce part-time work; place employees on paid annual leave, provided that the full amount of the employees’ remuneration is due for the period of termination of employment;
– members of the military may take part in the imposition of measures for prevention of the spread of the disease, including by requesting identification documents and detaining persons until the arrival of authorities from the Ministry of the Interior;
– changes may be instituted in the terms of contracts for funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds, as well as in the specific procedures for their provision;
– time limits in connection to exercising certain rights under the Social Security Code are suspended;
– the State, via the Unemployment Fund of the National Social Security Institute, shall provide up to 60% of the salaries of employees of employers determined by the Council of Ministers for the period of state of emergency, but not more than 3 months, under certain conditions;
– the expiry dates of identity cards and driving licenses of Bulgarian citizens are extended, and so are the time limits for residence and the dates of validity of personal documents of EU citizens and foreigners;
– a prohibition is put in place for changes in the prices of consumer goods and services compared to the arithmetic average prices for the previous three months;
– the time limits set down in the Tax and Social Security Code are extended;
– rules are put in place for determining the advance tax under the Corporate Income Tax Act;
– data under the Electronic Communications Act may be used for exercising control over the compliance of people put under quarantine with said quarantine.

By way of presidential decree from 22 March 2020, the law has been returned for further discussion by the National Assembly, with motives that the changes in the Criminal Code would pose excessive limitations to the freedom of speech and that the rules for regulating the prices of consumer goods and services would breach the constitutional principle of free economic initiative. Discussions of the presidential veto have been included in the agenda of the National Assembly for 23 March 2020.

After a new vote on these texts has passed and the law has been promulgated, Dobrev & Lyutskanov Law Firm will provide you with specific information on the envisaged measures.