We just came back from our two-week summer holidays. First ones in two years. We visited the coast of Bulgaria, mainly the Burgas and Nessebar areas. It has been a gratifying experience I will write about soon here on Micropreneur Life.
As there was nothing in the fridge, I went to a local supermarket to get some food for the following week. While we enjoyed warm temperatures in Burgas and Nessebar (above 30ºC every day), Sofia was cloudy, chilly and windy. As soon as I got out, I felt a really bad vibe. I’ve got goosebumps all over my body.
Protests in Sofia
There was a huge protest very close to our home. As we live two streets away from the National Assembly, we usually witness all public demonstrations. However, this one was frightening.
There were hundreds of people there without face masks. At least, I could not spot anyone wearing one. Close together. Using the word “social distancing” would be a joke.
Regardless of how noble or worthy their reason was, it was a terrible thing to see. As I walked through the park, there was a homeless man in a bench, coughing the life out of him. I think he was sick, but I did not dare to ask if he needed help. I doubt he would have understood me.
I was completely scared. Cases in Bulgaria are growing fast, and so is the death toll. There was something completely off with the whole situation. So I rushed to the supermarket with the intention of doing the groceries as fast as possible and getting back home.
Corruption in Bulgaria
Recently, a political scandal in Bulgaria showcased the concerning level of corruption in the country. Beaches in Bulgaria are supposed to be public, and accessible to anyone. However, to prove that this is indeed not true, Yes Bulgaria leader and former Justice Minister Hristo Ivanova tried to access a beach that has been de-facto privatized by Ahmed Dogan, the life honorary president of Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
The incident was followed by a clash involving people from different political parties and the police. This was just one of the many manifestations of political corruption in Bulgaria.
Don’t get me wrong, corruption is present in all countries. However, the situation in Bulgaria is so bad that it is even mentioned in the Wikipedia.
Siphoning of public funds to the families and relatives of politicians from incumbent parties has resulted in fiscal and welfare losses to society. Bulgaria ranks 71st in the Corruption Perceptions Index and experiences the worst levels of corruption in the European Union, a phenomenon that remains a source of profound public discontent.Wikipedia
So I want to state that I fully support what Bulgarians are doing to defend democracy, freedom, and civil rights. But I think these protests will have a terrible effect on the coronavirus crisis here.
What does this have to do with the coronavirus crisis? Well, cases in Bulgaria have been growing fast since they eased the restrictions at the beginning of June. This is not a second wave, this is a second Tsunami.
When the estate of emergency was declared, there was just 23 total cases, after an increase in 16 cases. Back then, I could only go outside to do the groceries, and wearing a mask, of course. Yesterday, there were 292 new cases, to a total of 6,964. And yet, I can go to my favorite restaurant without a face-mask now.
Three days ago, Bulgaria closed indoor discos, nightclubs, and restricted group celebrations to 30 people. Then, three days later, in an unexpected twist, and with an ever increasing number of cases, after a meeting with the representatives of restaurants and bars, the Health Ministry changed his mind and decided to ease restrictions for nightclubs, gatherings, etc.
That decision has not been taken with the public health in mind.
People don’t care at all anymore
During our trip, we realized that people don’t give a shit about the virus anymore.
We did not want to stay at hotels, so we stayed at AirBnB apartments. Fortunately, there were not a lot of people during the first ten days. But things started to get crowded some days ago. We were staying in an apartment in the outskirts of Nessebar. There was a hotel nearby and we enjoyed having breakfast there.
This Friday, the hotel started to get really crowded, and people did not care at all about the coronavirus. No social distancing, people getting close to you on queues, some people coughing near you without covering their mouth… I am glad we left today, because I was not feeling comfortable anymore.
That, alongside the fact that people were not wearing face-masks today, or in the hotels, or in the beach, restaurants, or anywhere else for that matter, is a clear sign that people have given up.
The perfect storm for a coronavirus crisis
It’s not ignorance or the embarrasing science refusal exercise from their politicians like in the United States or Brazil, it’s not even reality-denial like in the UK. It’s just that they don’t care at all anymore. Perhaps they are sick of it. Maybe they have just had enough of it.
Whatever the reason, this is the perfect storm for a new coronavirus crisis here. And I am deeply concerned.
All that glitters is not gold
When the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe, I felt relieved of being in Bulgaria. It seemed to me the country took things seriously. With just 23 cases, they declared the estate of emergency, enforced face-mask use and closed bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses.
It seemed they had the situation under control.
You could also feel on the streets how people took it seriously. There were people here and there not using masks, but overall, people were scared and followed the guidelines of the Ministry of Health.
All of that has changed now. People don’t seem to care anymore. The cases are skyrocketing, and there is no point of known return in sight.
Past March I wrote about how we lived the coronavirus situation here in Bulgaria. Back then, I though I was in the right place. Recent spikes in cases and the reaction of both the government and the people here convinced me I probably had the wrong feeling.
So if you are a digital nomad considering where to head next in Europe, I cannot recommend you to come to Bulgaria right now. The situation is getting really scary here. Go somewhere safer.