Vaccine resistant Bulgarians demonstrate against new COVID-19 certificate

Vaccine resistant Bulgarians demonstrate against new COVID-19 certificate
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Bulgarians who oppose coronavirus vaccines took to the streets on Wednesday to demonstrate against a new COVID-19 "Green Certificate" that will be required to enter certain indoor settings.

The mandatory use of the COVID-19 health pass, a move the Bulgarian government announced on Tuesday and takes affect Thursday, will require residents to show either proof of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or that they recently recovered from the virus, Reuters reported. A similar health pass has already been instituted in France.

Among the public places where residents will be required to show the pass include shopping malls, restaurants, bars, hotels and gyms, according to the news outlet. 

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Certain workers, including home health care workers and medical practitioners, will be also required to have the health pass on hand in order to work. 

The announcement led to hundreds of protesters, including some political leaders, railing against the measures, alleging that the government was using it as a way to force people get the COVID-19 shot, and that the requirement infringed on their freedoms.

Some protesters called for the interim health minister to step down over the mandate, Reuters reported. Bulgaria has parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 14.

The new public health measures come as Bulgaria has the lowest vaccination rate out of all the countries in the European Union, according to the news outlet. Data from Johns Hopkins University notes that roughly 20 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. 

COVID-19 cases in the country are steadily trending upward. Bulgaria saw over 4,900 cases on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to data from the World Health Organization. In June and July, COVID-19 cases were as low as in the double digits.