Bulgaria under Pandemic Lockdown till March, 2021

Bulgaria just announced a national lockdown until the spring. The measure comes after 100+ days of anti-government protests and increase of daily COVID cases in the thousands. Some rightly believed, the hesitation of the government to enforce the measures earlier was in light of the upcoming 2021 elections for the Bulgarian Parliament. The delay helps current administration to remain in power as preliminary elections cannot be called within 3-months of regularly scheduled national elections. At the same time, elections under national emergency will be difficult if not virtually impossible to complete.

Churches are not specifically included among other entities under the restrictions. However, evangelical churches have been consistently targeted in the media and strictly censored by public health agencies. Participants in the largest Gipsy church on the Balkans in the city of Samokov were fined in the spring for having Palm Sunday service in the large church yard observing every necessary measure. Close to a dozen of evangelicals leaders died in 2020 due to COVID, which has left a mark on the evangelical community to such an extent that even Centennial of the Pentecostal Movement in Bulgaria could not be properly celebrated as planned. The pandemic has also infringed on the proper change of power within several evangelical denominations (Baptist, United Methodist, Church of God, Church of God of Prophecy, Assemblies of God Pentecostal Union), which had national leadership in 2020-21.