March 25, 2020 / 4:20 PM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-Bulgaria lifts ban on entry of trucks en route to Turkey

(Releads with ban cancelled, details)

SOFIA, March 25 (Reuters) - Bulgaria on Wednesday lifted an entry ban on trucks from more than 65 countries, including many in the European Union, passing through the Balkan state en route to Turkey just few hours after imposing it, officials said.

Turkey imposed stringent coronavirus restrictions on truck drivers in the past days and slowed processing of truck documents, resulting in a 45 km line of vehicles on the Bulgarian side of the checkpoint at Kapitan Andreevo.

Bulgaria lies on one of the main transport routes from Europe to Asia and Bulgarian media have reported many of the drivers, who have to wait more than 72 hours to cross into Turkey, do not have protective masks or disinfectants.

“The ban was lifted because at the moment the Bulgarian and Turkish interior ministers are holding talks to see if the traffic can be eased and a faster entry of the vehicles on our territory ensured,” the head of Bulgaria’s border police, Svetlan Kichikov, told reporters in Sofia.

Turkey banned trucks from many European Union countries with large coronavirus outbreaks, saying they could enter Turkey only after spending 14 days in quarantine.

However, the new measures significantly slowed entry into Turkey and more than 1,200 trucks were waiting to pass, Kichikov said.

Bulgarian authorities have installed chemical toilets at parking lots along the line of trucks. Volunteers from the Bulgarian Red Cross have started to distribute food and water to the stranded truck drivers. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Jane Merriman and Alison Williams)

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