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Coronavirus outbreak prompts 12% of Bulgarian companies to halt operations - trade chamber

Coronavirus outbreak prompts 12% of Bulgarian companies to halt operations - trade chamber Source: pixabay.com

SOFIA (Bulgaria), March 25 (SeeNews) - Some 12% of Bulgarian companies have suspended operations since the country declared a state of emergency over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on March 13, the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) said. 

These companies decided to halt operations mostly because of the state of emergency itself, as well as over lack of orders, the BCCI said in a statement on Tuesday, citing the results of a March 18-23 poll in which 300 local companies and organisations took part. 

The results of the poll also indicate that after the state of emergency was declared 48% of companies and their employees continued working as usual but under strict hygienic and sanitary measures, while 38% chose to work from home. 

About 23% of the companies said that their employees or some of their employees are currently on paid leave, compared to 18% who are on unpaid leave. 

"The business is adapting, it is seeking different opportunities for flexible ways of work, but that is not possible everywhere," BCCI noted. 

Less than 1% of the companies are expecting some positive effect for their business from the coronavirus crisis. 

For 96% of the polled companies, it is of utmost importance that the flow of goods and raw materials through the Trans-European Transport Network is guaranteed. 

The poll also showed that the companies welcome the government's decision to cover 60% of the salaries of employees of companies which are most affected by the coronavirus crisis, but they believe that if the share was higher and the terms of the state support were clearer, the positive effect could be stronger.

Earlier on Wednesday, prime minister Boyko Borissov said that the government will introduce a package of financial measures worth 4.5 billion levs ($2.5 billion/2.3 billion euro) to support businesses under strain from the COVID-19 and preserve jobs. Some 1 billion levs of the total is intended for providing state financing for 60% of the salaries of employees, if their company decides to keep them on payroll during the crisis and pay the remaining 40%.

Labour minister Daniela Sacheva said earlier this week that the number of unemployed people in Bulgaria is rising sharply as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and this trend is expected to persist.

As of Wednesday, there are 242 confirmed cases of the disease in Bulgaria, including three deaths related to the disease as well as three recoveries. 

(1 euro = 1.95583 levs) 

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