On 17.11.2020, new amendments to State of Emergency Measures and Actions Act were published in the State Gazette, the most significant of which include:
Provisions for videoconferencing
In the event of a complication of the epidemic situation, as well as during the state of emergency itself, the administrative heads of the judiciary have the right once for a period of up to 14 days to postpone or cancel the court hearings scheduled for the period in order to preserve the health and life of the participants in the trial.
In addition, during the state of emergency, all communications and papers will be served via the e-mail address provided by the party concerned. Service shall be deemed valid after a confirmation has been sent by the consignee and, accordingly, the date of receipt shall be deemed to be from the moment the confirmation is sent. Provided that confirmation is not received within three days, service shall be issued in accordance with the general procedure.
Also, during the epidemic situation, the court has the right to postpone a case in the event any of the participants in the trial is under mandatory quarantine, hospital treatment or isolation. In this case, proof of this circumstance must be submitted within 7 days.
The changes also provide for a person in contact with another with an approved case of COVID-19 within the meaning of an act of a medical authority under the Health Act to switch to teleworking, including working from home.
Extension of the validity of personal documents
In addition to the changes in the court process, the changes envisage a re-extension of the term for renewal of personal documents. The changes from SG, no. 28 of 24.03.2020 provided for extension of the validity period by 6 months of personal documents with an expiration date from March 31 to October 31, 2020. With the new amendments the extension will be valid for documents whose validity expires on January 31, 2021.
The period of validity of driving licenses, which expires between 13 March 2020 and 31 December 2020, is also extended by 7 months from the date of expiry, according to the new amendments.
Conditions for short-term residence of foreigners
Regarding the residence of the foreigners on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, they may pass through the border checkpoints, provided that the respective state has notified the relevant authorities of the Republic of Bulgaria for extension of the validity of their personal documents.
According to the amendments, during the state of emergency, foreigners who entered the country under the conditions of visa and visa-free regime for short-term residence have the right to extend their stay in Bulgaria by up to 3 months due to humanitarian circumstances or emergencies. An application for extension of the period of residence may be submitted to the services for administrative control of foreigners in the manner prescribed by law.
Work from home
The amendments provide the right of employers and appointing authorities to assign homework or teleworking without the consent of employees, as well as to provide up to one-half of the paid annual leave to the employee. Changes are also introduced for the overtime work of the employees with reduced working hours, who render or support the rendering of medical aid, the police bodies and the bodies for fire safety and protection of the population. According to the current regulations, these rules were valid only for the state of emergency and two months after its repeal. After the change of 17.11.2020, the new rules will be in force both during the state of emergency, respectively – of the emergency epidemic situation, and two months after its repeal. That is, if the state of emergency is lifted but the epidemic emergency remains, the changes will continue to operate.