Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Romania’s daily COVID-19 cases near 5,000: Romanian officials reported 4,848 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, October 21 – the highest daily count registered in Romania since the start of the pandemic. Thus, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country went over 191,000. Bucharest recorded 650 new cases of coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, according to the official daily report released on Wednesday. Next were the counties of Cluj – 343, Mures – 234, Iasi – 231, and Dolj – 201. The rate of new COVID-19 infections in the last 14 days reached 3.25 per thousand inhabitants in Bucharest. Alba county also passed the threshold of three COVID-19 infections per 1,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, reaching a rate of 3.26 on Wednesday, according to the same report. More than 2.92 million tests were performed in Romania so far, of which 37,025 in the last 24 hours. The death toll has risen to 6,065, with 69 new victims in the last 24 hours. The number of COVID-19 patients treated in intensive care units was 766 on Wednesday.

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • 255 localities in Romania are in the red scenario, head of emergency services says: The rate of new COVID-19 infections in the last 14 days passed the threshold of three per 1,000 inhabitants in 255 localities in Romania, which means they entered the “red scenario,” according to Raed Arafat, the head of Romania’s Emergency Services Department. The list includes 22 municipalities and 15 cities, among them Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Alba Iulia, Bacau, Resita, Sfantu Gheorghe, Craiova, Miercurea Ciuc, Targu Mures, Zalau, Alexandria, and Ramnicu Valcea, Arafat told local news station Digi24.
  • Romanian Parliament votes former justice minister to lead Legislative Council: Florin Iordache, the author of the infamous emergency ordinance (GEO) 13 in January 2017 that prompted massive pro-democracy protests in Romania due to its negative impact on the rule of law, was voted as head of the Legislative Council, on October 20, 2020. The body is not critically important for the rule of law in Romania – it is an advisory body of the Parliament that issues opinions on draft normative acts with the purpose of unification and systematization. However, any draft bill needs an opinion from the Legislative Council before moving forward. PM Orban alleged that given the results of the vote, USR must have voted with Florin Iordache, and criticized the appointing. This spells trouble for USR-PNL alliance, the latter threatening that after the elections they will no longer ally with the “supports of the person who issued GEO 13”.  In turn USR, accused the liberals of lying. Meanwhile both parties race to file a complaint at the Constitutional Court to contest the appointing the appointing in the Legislative Council.
  • Romanian prosecutors ask Parliament’s approval to investigate former SocDem minister: The prosecutors of Romania’s anti-corruption directorate DNA have asked the Parliament to lift the immunity of an MP, whom they suspect of influence peddling and bribery during his mandate as a minister. The prosecutors cited a total bribe worth RON 3.9 million (just over EUR 0.5 mln). According to G4Media.ro sources, the former minister targeted by the DNA investigation is Nicolae Banicioiu, a former minister of youth in the Government of Social Democrat prime minister Victor Ponta. Pro Romania MP Nicolae Banicioiu on Tuesday said that he agrees with the lifting of his parliamentary immunity because he does not have anything to hide and he wants the situation to be clarified as soon as possible, while also mentioning that he has decided not to run for a new parliamentary term. He rejected the allegations.
  • Orban: After parliamentary elections, legislation needs to be adopted regarding metropolitan area: After the parliamentary elections, pieces of legislation regarding the metropolitan area will have to be adopted, Chairman of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, said on Wednesday, referring to Bucharest and Ilfov.
  • Orban: After-schools remain open since they observe measures and no coronavirus cases reported: After-schools remained open because they observed the measures and there were no cases of infection with the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Wednesday, according to AGERPRES. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, leader of the PNL (National Liberal Party), participated on Wednesday in the submission of lists of candidates of the PNL Bucharest to the parliamentary election to the Municipal Electoral Office. The candidate list of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Bucharest for parliament, which is opened by the Liberal leader, Ludovic Orban, for the Chamber of Deputies, and the Minister of Finance, Florin Citu, for the Senate, was submitted on Wednesday to the Municipal Electoral Bureau (BEM).
  • PM Orban: I took decision to change Bucharest Prefect: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced that Bucharest’s Prefect, Gheorghe Cojanu, will be removed from his position on Thursday, mentioning that Traian Berbeceanu (former police commissioner) is one of the options considered for this position, according to AGERPRES.
  • Number of ICU beds for COVID-19 patients in Bucharest, supplemented: The number of intensive care beds in the Bucharest hospitals meant for COVID -19 patients will be supplemented by over 100, following an assessment made on Tuesday afternoon by the Minister of Health, Nelu Tataru, and the head of the Department for Emergency Situations (DSU), Secretary of State Raed Arafat, informs a press release on Tuesday.
  • PM Orban holds consultations with representatives of independent cultural sector: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban had a new round of consultations with the representatives of the independent cultural sector, with a view to extending support measures for cultural operators, in which context it was established that the latter will be actively involved in the process of finalizing a state aid scheme dedicated to independent actors, underway, at an advanced stage, at the Ministry of Culture.
    • PSD National Political Council validates lists of general election candidates in 19 county branches: The Social Democratic Party (PSD) has validated the lists of candidates in the December general election for 19 county branches, and its National Political Council will convene on Wednesday for the remaining branches, PSD First Deputy Chairman Sorin Grindeanu said Tuesday. Grindeanu said the meeting also elected interim leaderships at three PSD county branches. “Alba – Mr MEP Victor Negrescu, Covasna – Mr Barbu Bogdan and Vrancea – Mr. Angel Tilvar,” said Grindeanu. However, former head of the PSD Vrancea Marian Oprisan staged a “mutiny”, removing the deputy president of PSD Vrancea, Angel Tilvar, and appointing himself 1st on the list for the parliamentary elections although not being given this option by the PSD leadership due to the poor results in the local elections. Meanwhile the central management of PSD invalidated on Wednesday the list approved at the proposal of Marian Oprisan, who would be again removed from the list.
      • Comment: While the situation in Vrancea can be seen as an image blow for PSD head Marcel Ciolacu (who himself took over the interim leadership of county branch), it remains to be seen whether an exclusion decision will follow.
  • Deputies approve state aid scheme for agricultural producers affected by drought: On Tuesday, the deputies voted in favor of the draft law on the approval of the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 148/2020 for the establishment of a state aid scheme granted to agricultural producers who set up crops in the autumn of 2019 and who have been affected by the drought, according to AGERPRES.
  • PM Orban believes current restrictive measures will help lower the number of infections: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said that the authorities will continue to apply the quarantine of certain localities when such a decision is necessary and reaffirmed that the number of cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection will decrease by complying with the measures of health protection. The statements were made at the end of the visit to the Dacia Plant in Mioveni, when asked by the media on how the authorities could act to counter the rise of COVID-19 cases.
  • Army close to signing the next big endowment contract: According to the approval already received in the Parliament, the Romanian Army will spend about 2.7 billion euros for a new anti-aircraft missile system for short and very short range (SHORAD and VSHORAD), a new capability to complement the recently acquired Patriot system, which is for long-range air defense. Although it is not yet known whether it will be a G2G contract entrusted directly, or a competitive tender, there are several options available on the market. The Americans from Raytheon, who also produce the Patriot system, offered Romania their NASAMS system with two types of missiles that are also used on the F-16 planes. In recent years, several defense companies have signaled that they are willing to enter this competition if it were organized. Among them are: MBDA, Diehl Defense or Rafael.

Impact on the economy

  • Romania’s public debt up to 42.8% of GDP at end-Aug: Romania’s public debt rose by another RON 5.8 billion (EUR 1.2 bln) in August to reach RON 450.2 bln (EUR 92.3 bln) at the end of the month. The debt to GDP ratio edged up to 42.8% from 42.2% one month earlier and 35.2% at the end of 2019.
  • Employers: Romania’s spa industry loses 40 mln euros in last month and half: The Romanian spa industry has lost 40 million euros in the last month and a half, and if the situation continues, 60% of the relevant companies will not survive until the end of the year, the Employers’ Organization of Spa Tourism in Romania (OPTBR) points out in a release sent to AGERPRES on Tuesday.
  • Romanian tour operators demand 5% VAT and state aid to weather the crisis: The association of Romanian tour operators, ANAT, argues that the Romanian authorities should adopt a state aid scheme dedicated to travel agencies similar to those implemented by other states within the European Union. The five requests outlined by ANAT include a lower VAT rate (5%) for tourism services, grants in the amount of the taxes paid by the tour operators in 2019, more holiday vouchers for budgetary employees, a longer kurzarbeit period, and state guarantees for the vouchers handed by the tour operators to their customers in exchange for the lost holidays.
  • Pandemic’s economic impact could be 500,000-plus jobless and 300,000 companies going insolvent (consultants): A severe economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis could mean more than 500,000 jobless and over 300,000 companies going insolvent or bankrupt in the next period; accessing non-reimbursable funds with European support or from the government could be a solution to avoid this scenario, shows a report released on Wednesday by REI Finance Advisors – a consulting company specializing in attracting EU funding and state aid for the companies operating in Romania, according to AGREPRES.
  • President of ASF guarantees all private pension funds comply with minimum yield: All private pension funds comply with that mandatory condition regarding the yield, a very good one, of over 4%, the president of the Financial Supervision Authority, Nicu Marcu told on Tuesday evening private television broadcaster Digi24, according to AGERPRES. According to him, the number of taxpayers has increased, from over seven million policyholders in 2019 to more than eight million in 2020, and assets have increased by over 14% compared to last year.
  • Romanian entrepreneurs launch marketplace for B2B services: Six Romanian entrepreneurs from Cluj-Napoca have invested EUR 200,000 to build an online platform that helps companies find service providers. In addition to helping demand meet supply, the platform simplifies closing partnerships based on reviews and recommendations. ENSO operates as a “one-stop-shop” for identifying service providers already validated by other companies. The platform allows the identification of multiple criteria for more than 80 different types of business services, from marketing, IT&C, and HR services, to cleaning and facility management services.
  • Romanian startup Soleadify secures seed funding for database that uses machine learning to track 40M businesses: Romanian startup Soleadify, which uses machine learning to create profiles for businesses in any industry, has secured USD 1.5 million in seed-round funding from European venture firms GapMinder, Venture Partners and DayOne Capital, as well as several business angels, through SeedBlink, an equity crowdfunding platform based out of Bucharest, Romania.
  • Pharma and IT employees earn above the general market average. Cluj is the city in Romania with best paid employees: Employees in the fields of Pharma and IT still have incomes above the general market average in Romania, according to the data of the 5th edition of the study “Total Remuneration Survey”, drawn by Mercer Marsh Benefits. In this context, Cluj is, for the second year in a row, the city in Romania where employees are best paid, with an increase of 10% compared to the national market average. Bucharest is next, with employees earning 4% above the average, and Ploiesti (+1% compared to the general average).
  • Euroins head won the lawsuit with ASF in first court and will remain in office: The Bucharest Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Mihnea Tobescu, the general manager of Euroins, on Tuesday, October 20, who asked in court to suspend the execution of the decision of the Financial Supervision Authority (ASF) by which he was fined RON 100,000 and sanctioned with the withdrawal of the insurer’s license. The decision is enforceable until the final settlement of the case pending before the courts.