Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Romania’s daily Covid-19 case count tops 10,100: Romania added 10,142 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 334,236 on Thursday, November 12, the Strategic Communications Group announced in the daily report. The new cases were recorded out of 35,762 tests carried out over the same period. The death toll rose to 8,510 after 121 Covid-19 patients died in the past 24 hours. A total of 12,852 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in the country, 1,152 of them to intensive care units. Bucharest reported 927 new cases, and three counties had more than 400 cases: Brașov (466), Cluj (413) and Hunedoara (412). Six other counties added 300 or more cases: Arad (320), Iași (300), Ilfov (358), Mureș (321), Prahova (336), and Sibiu (379). Bucharest and 19 other counties had infection rates higher than 3 per 1,000 inhabitants. The highest ones were in Sibiu (7.4), Cluj (6.99), Timiș (6.43), and Sălaj (6.34). The city of Sibiu had on Wednesday, November 11, an infection rate of 11.18, prompting the Sibiu Public Health Department (DSP) to propose a quarantine of the city and the neighboring Şelimbăr commune, News.ro reported. A decision on this is expected on Friday. Meanwhile, Ialomita County Committee for Emergency Situations has decided to place Slobozia city under a 14-day quarantine starting Thursday, November 12, due to the accelerate rise of the SARS-CoV-2 spread, while municipality of northwestern Baia Mare has entered a zonal quarantine for 14 days as of Wednesday afternoon.
  • Survey: 38.6% of Romanians say they would not get vaccinated against COVID-19: More than 38% of a survey respondents said they would not get vaccinated against COVID-19 if such treatment were available in the next period, according to AGERPRES. The survey was conducted between September 25 and October 16, by the Center for Sociological Research Larics (CCSL), in partnership with the Romanian Association of International Drug Manufacturers (ARPIM) and the Institute of Political Science and International Relations (ISPRI), under the aegis of the Department of Medical Sciences of the Romanian Academy. The sample size of the survey was 1,000 people, and the maximum allowed data error was +/- 3%.

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Iohannis, to prefects: I expect firmness; communicate measures well: President Klaus Iohannis called on prefects on Thursday to be firm in enforcing the restrictive measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to AGERPRES. He stressed that the new measures taken at the national level are “well thought out, correct and expect results in two, maximum three weeks.” The head of state has had a videoconference with prefects on the management of the COVID-19 epidemic, together with the Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, the Minister of Internal Affairs Marcel Vela, the Health Minister Nelu Tataru, the Head of the Department for Emergency Situations Raed Arafat. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban asked on Thursday the Public Health Directorates (DSPs) to increase the speed of issuing decisions and the capacity to conduct epidemiological investigations, mentioning that these institutions “have the fundamental mission to stop the pandemic”.
  • RO opposition, ruling parties boycott each other’s bills: The senators of the ruling Liberal Party (PNL) refused to attend the Senate’s meeting on November 11, thus boycotting the opposition’s attempt to reschedule the general elections. Only 58 senators of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) attended the meeting, which was called off for lack of quorum, G4media.ro reported. PSD probably agreed to abandon its efforts to defer the general elections since it has rejected an online meeting until now. For the second day in a row, the Senate’s Standing Bureau failed to convene on Thursday too, for lack of a quorum, after the Save Romania Union (USR) filed a request for a plenary sitting to pass a citizens’ initiative barring public office to convicts. The National Liberal Party (PNL) has announced on the party’s Facebook page that they boycotted today’s meeting, which was to discuss the convening of a plenary session to discuss an initiative barring convicts from holding public offices, arguing that the Social Democratic Party (PSD), which holds a majority, would reject the bill for the revision of the Constitution, and that thus they wanted to guarantee its adoption.
  • PNL Gorghiu: PSD’s blatantly populist bills, drawn up overnight, blow up Romania’s budget: Liberal Senator Alina Gorghiu said on Wednesday that any bill of public interest is a priority for the National Liberal Party (PNL), but the Social Democratic Party (PSD) puts on the agenda of the Legislature initiatives drawn up “overnight” by the Social Democratic leaders, “whereby they blow up Romania’s budget”, “(initiatives) which do not have financial support nor do they indicate sources of financing”. Gorghiu made these remarks after being asked if the boycott of the Senate plenary on Wednesday did not sacrifice other projects on the agenda, such as the “No convicts in public office” initiative.
  • RO minister says number of “active employees” rose year-to-date: The number of “active employees” increased in Romania by over 15,000 since the end of 2019, labor minister Violeta Alexandru claims, Agerpres reported. She rejected the allegations that one million Romanians have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus crisis. According to the statistics office (INS), the number of employees in the Romanian economy decreased to 4.906 million at the end of August, some 73,000 fewer than the 4.979 million registered one year earlier. The LabMin assured that the support measures for employers and employees will continue in the coming months. She also accused the Labor Inspection of underperformance in terms of processing complaints and conducting checks, yet said she does not encourage overzealous actions either.
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  • SMAp: Romanian military contribute significantly to the effort to combat COVID-19 pandemic: The Romanian military has contributed “significantly” to the national effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to fulfil its commitments to maintain Romania’s status as a credible NATO ally and contributor to European security, the Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Daniel Petrescu, said on Thursday, in a message occasioned by the 161st anniversary since the establishment of the SMAp (Defense Staff), according to AGERPRES. In turn, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said on Thursday that resilience is “an essential element of our strategic competitiveness,” and this topic is a global one, from the point of view of Romania, of the democratic societies of the allied countries. The Minister of National Defence, Nicolae Ciuca, also sent a message on Thursday on the occasion of the Defence Staff Day. “This year, together with the whole world, we are going through a difficult, unprecedented period. The Romanian people need, once again, the support of the Romanian Army. We are here, on duty. The COVID-19 Pandemic cannot beat us! I also take this opportunity to remind you that the challenge posed by SARS-CoV-2 must not diminish the main mission of the Defence Staff, which is to protect the country and its people,” said Nicolae Ciuca.
  • IntMin Vela: Wednesday’s actions – record in Interior Ministry’s activity – 465 people heard, 98 – detained: The Minister of Internal Affairs, Marcel Vela, announced on Thursday that the actions of the Ministry of Interior from the previous day were a success, as following the raids 465 people were taken to hearings and 98 detained, according to AGERPRES.
  • Sibiu: USR PLUS Alliance asks for resignation of prefect and public health directorate head: The USR PLUS (Save Romania Union – Liberty, Unity, Solidarity Party) Alliance demands the resignation of prefect Mircea Cretu and that of the head of the Public Health Directorate (DSP), Gabriel Budescu, whom they consider responsible for the crisis in Sibiu, the county with the highest infection rate in Romania, over 7 per thousand inhabitants, according to AGERPRES. They also criticized Deputy Prime Minister Raluca Turcan, a deputy representing Sibiu and a candidate for a new term, who they say has given assurances that the situation is under control. Pro Romania also requested, on Wednesday evening, the resignation of prefect Mircea Cretu, who was on medical leave, being ill with COVID-19. Currently, the emergency meetings are led by the sub-prefect Rares Macrea, who admitted on Wednesday evening that the quarantine of Sibiu Municipality is being taken into account.
  • Gov’t to okay Railway Infrastructure Development Strategy 2021-2025, on Thursday: The Government might approve, in Thursday’s meeting, the Railway Infrastructure Development Strategy 2021-2025, which involves maintenance, repairs, modernization in terms of railway traffic, according to AGERPRES. The Government might also to adopt the draft decision on extending the state of alert by another 30 days, after previously, on October 14, approved another normative act in this regard.
  • Defense Minister, Chief of Defense Staff meet in Bucharest US Secretary of the Navy: Minister of National Defense Nicolae Ciuca and Chief of the Defense Staff, Lieutenant General Daniel Petrescu, met on Wednesday at the Defense Ministry’s headquarters with US Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite on the occasion of the American official’s visit to Romania. The talks focused on bilateral cooperation, joint Navy projects, the security situation in the Black Sea region and current subjects on the NATO agenda, the Ministry of National Defense said in a release. The agenda of the American official in Romania also includes visits to the 99th Deveselu Military Base, the 57th Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base and to the military units of the Romanian Navy in Constanta. US Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite is on a visit to Romania until Thursday.
  • President Iohannis to be awarded Charlemagne Prize Friday, at Charlemagne Prize Europa Summit: President Klaus Iohannis will attend the “Charlemagne Prize Europe Summit” videoconference, organized by the Society for the Award of the Charlemagne International Prize of the city of Aachen, announced the Presidential Administration.
  • Electricity distributors are forced to connect to the grid all individuals, within 90 days – bill: Electricity distribution companies will be required to connect to the electricity grid any applicant, regardless of place of consumption.

 

Impact on the economy

  • E.ON reaches 100 charging points for e-vehicles in Romania: Utility company E.ON Energie Romania, part of German group E.ON, has installed about 100 public and private charging points for electric cars in Romania through the E.ON Drive project. Most charging points are in Bucharest and in the Moldova region, where E.ON also runs electricity distribution operations. The E.ON electromobility solution serves both individuals and business customers – mainly companies operating in HoReCa, real estate, and industry. However, the data regarding the electricity delivered through the network shows that the market is developing slowly. This year the number of charging sessions through the E.ON Drive application exceeded 2,200, approximately 33.3 MWh of electricity being used through E.ON’s charging points.
  • OMV Petrom reportedly ponders building EUR 245 mln bioethanol plant: OMV Petrom (SNP), the biggest energy company in Romania, plans to build a bioethanol plant and will apply for EU funds to finance the project, according to sources familiar with the project quoted by Economica.net. The company reportedly submitted a project worth RON 1.2 bln (EUR 245 million) to the Economy and Energy Ministry to get 35% of the investment subsidized under the Modernization Fund – mechanism 10d of the European EU-ETS directive. OMV Petrom plans to build a second-generation bioethanol plant, which, in principle, is eligible for EU funding. The oil company intends to develop this factory in Prahova county, where OMV Petrom has oil wells as well as an oil refinery – Petrobrazi.
  • Romgaz, Petrom set to produce hydrogen at wind farm in Dobrogea: Romania’s natural gas producers Romgaz and Petrom are considering developing a joint project to produce hydrogen at a wind farm in the south-eastern province of Dobrogea, for the first time in Romania, senior official with the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment Niculae Havrilet announced on Thursday at a virtual Green Energy Forum, according to AGERPRES. Romania has a huge wind potential, over 70,000 MW, in the Black Sea and could use this energy also for hydrogen production, Havrilet said.
  • National Bank keeps the monetary policy rate at 1.50 percent per annum: In its meeting of 12 November 2020, the Board of the National Bank of Romania decided to keep the monetary policy rate at 1.50 percent per annum and to leave unchanged the deposit facility rate at 1.00 percent per annum and the lending facility rate at 2.00 percent. Finance minister Florin Citu, on the other hand, would have liked a cutback of the rate. He said at the end of October that the monetary policy rate is still higher compared to other EU states.
  • New orders in processing industry, down 8.8% in first nine months: New orders in the processing industry, reported both in the domestic and foreign markets, decreased by 8.8% in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period in 2019, according to data published on Thursday by the National Institute of Statistics (INS).
  • Industrial output down 12pct in Jan-Sep (statistics): Romania’s industrial production decreased by more than 12 per cent, both as a gross series and as an adjusted series, after the first nine months of 2020, compared with the same period of the previous year, according to a report released by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on Thursday.
  • Industrial turnover in Romania, down almost 10pct nine months into 2020 (INS): Industrial turnover in Romania went on a downward trend in the first nine months of 2020 as against the same period of 2019 of 9.7%, according to data with the National Institute of Statistics (INS), as reported by AGERPRES.
  • Study: Half of Romanians want to buy something on Black Friday this year: Nine out of ten Romanians know what Black Friday is, and more than half of them intend to buy at least one product on the day with the biggest discounts of the year, according to a Kantar Romania study. According to the study, 54% of Romanians aged between 18 and 65 want to buy at least one product on Black Friday and plan to spend an average of RON 2,200 (EUR 453).
  • Romanian investors launch new equity crowdfunding platform: Goldseed Capital, a new equity crowdfunding platform recently launched in Romania, aims to have ten startups listed in the first year of operations, former banker Dan Pascariu, one of the co-founders, told Ziarul Financiar. Pascariu, a former Chairman of the Board at UniCredit Bank Romania, launched the platform in partnership with Daniel Stoica, a former top manager at flag carrier Tarom. The two co-founders invested EUR 20,000 in developing the platform.
  • RO financial group floats apartment rental financial vehicle: Cluj-Napoca-based BRK Financial Group, one of the biggest brokerage companies on the local market, has launched a new company, Residential Star Invest, that will invest in residential properties for rent, Profit.ro reported. The group aims to list the vehicle on the AeRO market of the Bucharest Stock Exchange.
  • Israeli investor in talks to sell distressed Jupiter City Pitesti shopping centre: Doron Ofer, the descendant of the richest Israeli family with Romanian origins, reportedly negotiates with the Austrian group Supernova to sell the Jupiter City shopping center in Pitesti, the most valuable real estate asset he owns on the Romanian market. The transaction takes place under “distressed” conditions, and the sale price is estimated at under EUR 20 mln.
  • Mobile community management app for access to building community benefits launched: SkyTower, the tallest building in Romania, announces the implementation of Spaceflow community management mobile application, a digital communication and interaction platform dedicated exclusively to its tenants. The mobile app offers a fast-digital connection to a variety of services and facilities and a direct connection to the community life in the tower.
  • Record demand from retailers and logistics: The Romanian logistics market will have a record demand by the end of 2020, with a transactional volume exceeding the 700,000 square meters threshold, amid the accelerated development of ecommerce and the positioning of Bucharest as a regional logistics hub for a series of international retailers, according to the data of the real estate consulting company Cushman & Wakefield Echinox.
  • Telekom Romania reports key performance indicators for Q3 2020: Telekom Romania group has announced key performance indicators for the third quarter of 2020, ended September 30, 2020, as reported today by OTE Group, showing a stable development on revenues and the fourth consecutive quarter of YoY EBITDA growth. Consolidated revenues in Q3 2020 reached €244.1 mln., a slight growth of 0.2% compared to the same period in 2019, despite the fact that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were still evident in the Romanian economy and across Europe.
  • Sphera reports 27.6% decrease in its consolidate sales as against 2019: Sphera Franchise Group (“Sphera”) reported consolidated sales of RON 502.4 million in the first nine months of the year, representing a 27,6% decrease compared to the same period last year. The Group’s consolidated sales in the third quarter amounted to RON 197.9 million, a decrease of 20.5% compared to the same period last year, but up by 86.2% compared to the second quarter of this year. The performance recorded in Q3 managed to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic recorded in Q2. Deliveries through own channels and partnerships with online order aggregators have contributed to improved performance in Q3. Thus, between July and September, 24% of all orders were generated through delivery channels, while 76% were sold in restaurants.
  • Romania’s automotive sales decrease by 28.7% pct in first ten months of year: Romania’s automotive sales decreased by 28.7% pct in the first ten months of the year, compared to the similar period last year, a margin within which electric cars (BEV, PHEV) are up 67.7%, the Association of Automotive Manufacturers and Importers (APIA) said in a release on Wednesday. At the national sectoral level, Romania’s flagship car maker Dacia still tops the brand ranking (cars + commercial vehicles) with 31,814 units sold, followed by Renault – with 8,712 units, Volkswagen (8,688), Ford (7,591 ), Skoda (7,528) and Hyundai (5,738).
  • CONAF signs with PMP a collaboration agreement on the Labor Pact: the National Confederation for Female Entrepreneurship (CONAF) announces the signing of a support and cooperation agreement with the Popular Movement Party (PMP) on the Labor Pact project, an initiative started in 2019, according to Agerpres. The signing event was attended, on behalf of the initiators by: Cristina Chiriac – president of CONAF, Andreea Negru – president of the Association for the Development of Local Entrepreneurship (ADAA), Nicoleta Munteanu – vice president of the National Association of Entrepreneurs (ANAA), Dragos Anastasiu – president of Eurolines Group, Franck Neel – president of the Federation of Oil and Gas Employers (FPPG), Concordia representative, and Cătălin Niţă – executive director of FPPG.
  • Gas producers can “rent” new or future power plants: A bill is circulating in Parliament that will again significantly influence the way investments in electricity production will take place. More precisely, it is about a draft law that approves with amendments a Government Ordinance (106/2020), which in turn amends the famous law no. 123, on energy and natural gas. In the Industries and Services Commission, now led by the liberal Sorin Bumb, several amendments were introduced, of which one introduces the notion of “capacity reservation contract”. Specifically, a gas producer can “rent” a gas-fired power plant, existing or to be built by someone else, to which it provides gas and receives electricity that it can then sell on the market, while the operator of the plant receives money through that reservation fee. The first company to which the regulation seems to be addressed to is Romgaz, one of the two major gas producers in Romania, controlled by the state. The company has already announced such a project in partnership with GSP Power for a new 150 MW cogeneration gas plant, reads an analysis by Economica.net, which draws attention to the fact that the bill slips the possibility of political involvement in the authorization of new energy capacities, as the Ministry of Economy and Energy can now issue authorizations, attribution which was until now reserved to the National Regulatory Authority in the energy field (ANRE).