Because of COVID-19: MPs will work in the new plenary hall from the autumn

National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria
Source: Website of the Bulgarian Parliament

The COVID-19 crisis in Bulgaria has accelerated the relocation of MPs’ work to the renovated plenary hall of the former party house on Alexander Battenberg Square. The ruling party plans to start the parliamentary session in the fall in the hall “St. Sofia”, which is almost ready and on which millions of levs were spent. They argue that after the repairs the distance between the deputies is greater and thus the chance of infection with the new coronavirus is smaller. They estimate that the distance is approximately 70 centimeters, while in the current hall it is about 40 centimeters.

It is possible that the plenary sessions will start there in the autumn, while there are also repair works. GERB PG Chairwoman Daniela Daritkova commented:

“The last Conference of Presidents has been instructed by parliamentary groups to discuss with their members whether they agree to start sitting in the new plenary hall in September under these conditions.”

Daritkova pointed out that there will be a relocation only if all parliamentary groups agree. MPs from various parliamentary groups have commented to the media that they have no objections to working only there, and have already been given allocations as to which group will be housed in which room.

“In the St. Sophia Hall, the epidemic risk is absolutely minimized, because indeed the distances between the individual MPs are within the requirements provided for in the measures. This was the main argument to speed up the process of our relocation”, Daritkova added, acknowledging that there are some obstacles to the relocation because the work on installing the voting system in St. Sophia Hall has not been completed.

According to Daritkova, the current system will most likely be moved to the new hall, and a new one will be installed later. Hamid Hamid, the deputy chairman of the MRF General Assembly, added that they had already gathered to discuss the issue and also discussed the distribution of cabinets. According to him, from the autumn there will be no problem for the work of the MPs to be in the building on Alexander Battenberg Square, even if it is in conditions of ongoing repair works.

“Only because of the coronavirus has the public procurement for the audio-visual system been delayed, I think they will solve the problem temporarily with a rented or existing one.”

The left-wing MP Filip Popov said that the new hall was fully ready to receive the deputies from September, but the repair works would not be completed even then, as there was work on the heating, air conditioning and electrical system.

The question remains what will be the fate of the building in which the MPs are now sitting and which they have long wanted to replace because it was too small for them.

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