Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Bucharest infection rate ceiling, above 3 for two days in a row, new restrictions to be decided today: 2,466 new cases of COVID-19 infections have been reported in the past 24 hours, out of only 8,040 tests, which means that 30.6% of tests carried out in the last 24 hours were positive. Other 59 people infected with the novel coronavirus have died in the past 24 hours, while the number of patients in intensive care is still on the rise: 757. A total of 59 patients infected with the novel coronavirus have died in the past 24 hours. \
Political and regulatory
- Bucharest to close schools, cinemas, theaters, indoor restaurants as it enters “red scenario”: Schools in Bucharest will continue classes exclusively online after the city entered the red scenario, Romania’s prime minister Ludovic Orban announced on Sunday, October 18. Other restrictions to be implemented in this scenario include making masks mandatory in all outdoor spaces, and closing theaters, cinemas, indoor restaurants and cafes, according to the PM. Orban assured the parents who will have to stay home with their children as long as schools are closed that the Government would pass an ordinance to pay 75% of their salaries during this period. The measure applies only for one parent and only for children under 12. The closing of schools will be decided after all procedural steps are followed and the official announcement will come from the Municipal Committee for Emergency Situations, PM Orban said. Education minister Monica Anisie said the schools will probably close starting Tuesday. PM Orban pointed out however that nurseries and afterschool units are not affected by the restrictions. The authorities delayed triggering the red scenario in Bucharest last week by changing the methodology for calculating the incidence rate. However, Bucharest’s infection rate increased, nevertheless, due to the high community transmission of the virus. On Sunday, Bucharest recorded 770 new COVID-19 infection cases in the last 24 hours, out of 3,920 cases at a national level. The Strategic Communication Group thus announced an official incidence rate of 3.02 in Bucharest on Sunday, October 18, based on the new methodology. Valcea and Alba counties are also very close to the 3 per thousand level for entering the “red scenario”. Education Minister: Bucharest School Inspectorate to propose 14-day suspension of face-to-face teaching activities: The Bucharest School Inspectorate will forward to the Municipal Committee for Emergency Situations a proposal for the 14-day suspension of face-to-face classes, Minister of Education and Research Monica Anisie said on Monday, according to AGERPRES.
- EC allows Romanian Govt. to subsidize trade credit insurance: The European Commission (EC) has approved Romania’s EUR 103 million (RON 500 mln) guarantee scheme to support the commercial credit insurance market in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. “Given the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the risk of insurers not being willing to maintain coverage has become higher. The Romanian scheme guarantees that commercial credit insurance continues to be available for all companies, avoiding the need for advance payments by buyers of goods or services and thus reducing their immediate liquidity needs,” the European Commission said in a statement, News.ro reported.
- Romania’s reformist party USR-PLUS unveils six priorities: Justice, public education and health, environment, and development based on digitalization and innovation are the priorities outlined by the reformist alliance formed by the Save Romania Union (USR) and PLUS (USR-PLUS) in the governing strategy unveiled on October 17, ahead of the December 6 general elections. USR-PLUS promises to “mend” the justice laws and improve the functioning of the judiciary system.
- President: Romania could support EC’s 2030 CO2 target “under certain conditions”: Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis announced on Friday, October 16, after the European Council meeting dedicated to the European Commission’s proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by the end of 2030, that Romania could accept to support this target, but only under certain conditions.
- At EU summit, President Iohannis advocates solution to promptly deploy COVID vaccine to all member states: President Klaus Iohannis attended the European Council meeting in Brussels on October 15 – 16, stating on this occasion that a solution is necessary to make coronavirus vaccines available to member states as soon as they are out, the Presidential Administration informs, accrding to AGERPRES.
- Romania’s PM promises no tax hikes, six more months of kurzarbeit: Romania’s prime minister Ludovic Orban assured the representatives of the Coalition for Romania’s Development (CDR) that the Government would keep the flat tax rate and not raise taxes or introduce new ones. The draft that Romania will submit to the European Commission regarding the National Recovery and Resilience Plan was the main topic of discussion between PM Orban and CDR representatives. Romania’s draft National Recovery and Resilience Plan will be launched in public debate in November and subsequently sent to the European Commission. Another topic discussed by PM Orban with the CDR representatives was the fiscal regime. The prime minister underlined his Government’s clear position to maintain the flat tax rate and that it does not envisage tax increases or introducing new taxes. The Government will also continue the measures to keep jobs, such as providing days off for parents whose children can’t go to school due to the epidemic, extending the application of the flexible work schedule for six months, and providing incentives to maintain jobs. In turn, Florin Jianu, president of the National Council of Private Small and Medium Enterprises, pointed out that working capital support scheme for SMEs will open on October 26.
- Romania’s Govt. revises criteria for extending investment grants to SMEs: Romania’s Government published in the Official Gazette the emergency ordinance (OUG) 174/2020, which amends the procedures and criteria for extending grants totaling almost EUR 1 billion from European Union’s budget and the national budget. The new OUG changes the scoring grid for the EUR 50,000-200,000 investment grants (the third measure of the program) for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Government will distribute some EUR 550 million (including the companies’ contribution) under this measure.
- PSD’s Ciolacu claims that there might be a VAT increase scenario in the works by the Liberal government: The chairman of the PSD, Marcel Ciolacu, alleged on Facebook that the Liberal government might be “working covertly on simulations to increase the VAT.”
- Minister Bogdan Aurescu – visiting USA, Monday-Tuesday, to meet Secretary of State Pompeo: The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, will have, on Monday, in Washington DC, discussions with the United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, during the visit that the head of Romanian diplomacy is conducting to the United States of America, Monday and Tuesday, at the invitation of his American counterpart.
- Aurescu: Security concept must be approached broadly, given its dimensions aimed at health, humanity: The concept of security needs to be broadly approached, the components aimed at security and humanity, included, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu said on Friday at the Bucharest Forum, according to AGERPRES.
- DefMin Ciuca: We must stay vigilant for health crisis not to turn into security crisis: Minister of National Defense Nicolae Ciuca told the Bucharest Forum on Friday that the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic are raising concerns and that the authorities must make sure that “this health crisis and the economic recession do not become a security crisis,” noting in his speech that “the new paradigm of the post-COVID economic and financial crisis will likely have a global impact on Defense,” according to AGERPRES.
Impact on the economy
- Statistics: Last year’s environmental protection expenditures at 16 bln lei, 1.5 pct of GDP: Environmental protection expenditures by the overall economy last year stood at approximately 16 billion lei, accounting for 1.5 percent of GDP, the National Institute of Statistics (INS) informs, according to AGERPRES.
- Bucharest Stock Exchange loses 1.9 billion RON in capitalization this week: The Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) has lost this week 1.9 billion RON in capitalization, representing 1.45 pct of the total, and the value of stock transactions recorded an increase of 18.99 pct.
- Aecom, the American company in charge of building reactors 3 and 4 from Cernavoda NPP, sold its energy construction unit: Aecom, the American company that would manage the project of units 3 and 4 of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, sold its energy construction unit to an investment fund, CriticalPoint Capital LLC, according to Power Engineering.
- Western RO: Cluj-Napoca proposes rules for e-scooter use: The City Hall of Cluj-Napoca put up for debate a set of rules concerning the use of e-scooters, aimed at preventing traffic-related issues in the city. The rules are inspired by similar ones in Paris and Brussels, according to Cluj-Napoca mayor Emil Boc. “We are the first city in Romania to have such rules, and we were inspired by what is going on in large cities in the EU, especially Paris and Brussels,” Emil Boc said at a debate on this issue held on October 14, quoted by Actual de Cluj. Three e-scooter operators are present in Cluj-Napoca: Flow, Bolt, and Lime.