Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Number of total infections with coronavirus in Romania reached 3,183 on Friday (445 new cases from last reporting), according to Health Minister Nelu Tătaru who held a press conference today at 1PM. He said that at this moment there are three outbreaks of infection in Romania: in Suceava, Arad and Deva. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, 283 people have been cured, according to the Strategic Communication Group. The number of deceased amounted to 116, according to the most recent information. Nelu Tataru pointed out that situations are evaluated for each outbreak in particular and that for now a lockdown in Arad and Deva like the one imposed in Suceava is not being considered. Health Minister Nelu Tataru on Friday announced that 1,000 persons will be employed in the next interval by the Public Health Directorates (DSPs) and another 1,000 by the Ambulances services.
Political and regulatory
- Parliament is debating the suspension of utility payments for individuals; PSD, USR, UDMR, PMP Pro Romania and ALDE support the bill; PNL threatens to challenge it at the CCR: The Chamber of Deputies has started debating in an online meeting several bills, among which the legislative initiatives proposed by the PSD and passed urgently in the Senate. One of the projects debated in the plenary and amended is the one that gives fiscal and tax facilities to individuals and companies. PSD, USR, UDMR, PMP Pro Romania and ALDE support the bill. The project provides for the suspension of invoices for utilities for a period of three months, but also for the deferral of the social security contributions calculated and retained by the employer. According to the bill companies whose revenues dropped by minimum 15% against the previous month two months can apply for the 3-month deferral of utility bills. The Coalition for the Development of Romania (formed of almost all major trade unions) called yesterday for amendments to the bill for the deferral to be a (justified) option and not mandatory, in order to help only those in need. A consensus was also reached on the technical unemployment benefit of 75% on Friday in the Deputies Chamber, with the novelty that employers have to retain the jobs of those sent into technical unemployment.
- Iohannis: Medical staff working with COVID-19 patients to get EUR 500 signing bonus. Suceava Hospital militarized: Doctors and nurses who are working with COVID-19 patients will receive a monthly bonus of EUR 500, President Klaus Iohannis said, while asking the PM to identify the necessary funds. Iohannis has discussed the critical situation of Suceava hospital in a video conference on Thursday. The head of state has made a new call on the medical personnel, from Suceava particularly, to come back to work, vowing that tests for doctors and testing equipment will be brought shortly. Iohannis has also announced the hospital in Suceava will be militarized. Health Minister Nelu Tataru on Thursday evening stated that the 500-euro allowance is a hazard pay meant for the medical staff battling the COVID-19, to be paid during the entire period of the pandemic.
- HealthMin Tataru: There will be more vaccines tested; shouldn’t expect vaccine earlier than 6-8 months: Health Minister Nelu Tataru said on Thursday evening that, within approximately one month, Romania will have a model of vaccine against the novel type of coronavirus, which will be tested on young persons, however, other vaccines will also be tested. On the other hand, he underscored that we should not expect a verified vaccine to be released “earlier than six-eight months.”
- PM Orban: Most views converge toward a peak of epidemic taking place between 20 April-1 May: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Thursday that, according to the current assessments, the peak of the epidemic might occur between 20 April and 1 May, mentioning that this is the view of most specialists, because it’s difficult to make a prediction of 100 percent probability. He said that Romania is prepared for any situation and has taken the necessary measures in advance. Orban also announced Thursday evening that Romania is going to receive more than two million face masks and 100,000 coveralls in the next interval. Testing capacity also increases each day, and it might reach to 5,000-6,000 tests per day, Orban said.
- PM Orban: It is almost clear local elections cannot take place on 28 June: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Thursday evening that it is almost clear that local elections can no longer be organized on 28 June, mentioning that a normative act would be issued for extending the mandates of the current mayors and another date for these elections would be established in consultation with the other parties, also depending the development of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
- The Government approved the implementation norms for delaying the payment of credit installments and changes to the guarantee schemes for SMEs: The Government approved during Thursday’s meeting the methodological norms for applying the GEO on postponing for up to nine months of the payment of credit installments. The guarantee schemes for SMEs were modified by GEO, in order to bring them in line with the requirements of the European Commission, being considered state aid. Thus, the application norms for SME loans were read in first meeting and are to be adopted in Monday’s meeting. The incentive for physicians was also discussed, which will be paid from European funds. An emergency ordinance for this purpose was discussed in first reading, and will be adopted in Monday’s meeting. Furthermore, an Emergency Ordinance was approved for extending the granting of days off for parents to take care of their children while schools are closed for vacations (spring break started April 3rd), through an amendment to Law 19/2020, which grants a benefit of 75% of the salary.
- The “red zones” list updated, Romanians returning from 12 countries to be automatically quarantined: The list with the red zones (countries with high number of COVID cases), for which a 14-day institutionalized quarantine is needed has been extended up to 12 countries, with measures to be enforced as of Friday, April 3. The countries considered “red zones” following coronavirus cases are: Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Iran, UK, the Netherlands, US and Turkey.
- No wage or pension cuts, Romania’s FinMin Citu assures: Romania’s Government does not consider the scenario of cutting salaries (in the public sector) or pensions, in the context of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, finance minister Florin Citu said on Thursday, April 2, for Digi TV channel. “No, at this moment we are not looking at a restructuring of the public personnel,” the minister added, admitting however that the budgetary sector is inefficient. He said that efforts are moving towards resolving the health crisis and spoke about a budget rectification next week to provide funds for health, equipment, medical leave.
- PSD’s Negrescu asks European Commission for urgent support in ensuring access to online education: Social Democrat MEP Victor Negrescu on Friday asked the European Commission for urgent support in ensuring equal access to digital education to all pupils and students.
- Waiting time to enter Romania through Nadlac I PTF is four hours; Nadlac II closed for cars: The Interior Ministry (MAI) announced on Thursday evening that traffic through the Nadlac I PTF was opened as of 20:00hrs only for cars, which will make traffic for trucks through the Nadlac II PTF swifter.
- MApN:100,000 protection masks from Turkey brought from Turkey by Romanian Air Force aircraft: A C-27 Spartan aircraft belonging to the Romanian Air Force operated a flight on Thursday to bring to Romania some medical protection equipment from Turkey consisting of 100,000 FFP2 and FFP3 protection masks, the National Defence Ministry (MApN) informs.
Impact on the economy
- Auchan, Leroy Merlin set up hospital near Bucharest for mild COVID-19 cases: French retail companies Auchan (hypermarkets) and Leroy Merlin (do-it-yourself), with the support of the Health Ministry and Emergency Situations Department (DSU), have started organizing a hospitalization center for non-critical Covid-19 patients, in the Bucharest-Ilfov area, the companies announced in a press release. Thus, a building belonging to Leroy Merlin, located on Bucharest’s ring road, in Mogosoaia area, will be transformed into a center for reception, sorting, accommodation and preliminary treatment of patients infected with the new coronavirus, while the more serious cases will be transferred to other hospital units. “If this proves efficient, we wish to replicate this project in other cities,” said Ionut Ardeleanu, general manager of Auchan Retail Romania. The partnership has benefited from the beginning from the support of Ceetrus, Oney and Decathlon companies, which are also controlled by French investors.
- EUR 400 M from the WB for Romania to counter the Human and Economic Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic: The Government of Romania activated Euro 400 million of pre-arranged financial support from the World Bank to help prevent and respond to the COVID – 19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The financing covers a range of interventions to strengthen health services, minimize the losses to both the public and private sectors, and to safeguard lives and livelihoods overall.
- Over 1 mln labour contracts in Romania suspended or terminated so far: The number of labour contracts that have been suspended or terminated since the introduction of the state of emergency exceeds one million, according to figures published by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection on Thursday, April 2.
- Retail trade volume, up 12.5pc in Romania, Jan.-Feb. 2020: Romania’s retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles, increased in the first two months of 2020, y-o-y, by 12.5% in volume, in unadjusted terms, and by 10.1%, when adjusted for working days and seasonality, according to data published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on Friday.
- Carmaker Groupe Renault Romania extends production halt at Mioveni-based Dacia plant: Carmaker Groupe Renault Romania announced on Thursday in a release the extension of the production halt at the Mioveni-based Dacia plant. According to the cited source, the decision was made in agreement with the social partners “in the context of the global spread of the novel coronavirus and of the health crisis developments”. Groupe Renault Romania initially announced the halt of production at the Mioveni plant from March 17 until April 5.
- Minister of Agriculture: Romania and Europe are not in a position to enter a food crisis. We hope we will not get there: Romania and Europe are not in a position of blockage or of entering a food crisis, and the “green” corridors for food transport and import are functioning, Minister of Agriculture, Adrian Oros said Thursday on Digi24.
- Colliers: online shopping to support post-crisis recovery of Romania’s real estate market: The recovery of Romania’s real estate market after the economic slowdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic will be marked by the consumers’ higher propensity for online shopping, the local office of global real estate consultancy firm Colliers International argues in a report. This would generate opportunities for some industries, including segments of the real estate market – such as stronger demand for logistic facilities required by e-commerce.
- German business community asks Romanian Govt. to implement Kurzarbeit: German companies in Romania are generally unsatisfied with the measures adopted by the Government to support the economy and ask for more measures to be implemented, including the implementation of reduced and flexible schedule work, known in Germany as Kurzarbeit. “Most companies are aware of the measures taken by the Government in support of companies, but they are generally dissatisfied, considering them insufficient (50%) and not very useful (27%),” the Romania-German Chamber of Commerce (AHK) said in a press release, after a survey among its members.
- Pension funds record average decrease of fund units of 6.7pct at March 30 over December 31, 2019: The mandatory private pension funds (Pillar II) in Romania have recorded an average decrease of the fund units by 6.7 pct at March 30, 2020, over December 31, 2019, according to a release of the Association for Privately-Administered Pensions of Romania (APAPR).
- 30pct increase in payments via SelfPay stations, in March: The volume of payments made through the SelfPay payment stations increased by 30pct, in March, compared to the similar period of last year. SelfPay Payment Stations can be found in large retail networks (Mega Image, Profi, Kaufland, Carrefour), shopping malls, markets, petrol stations and convenience stores and are available every day, during the hours when stores are open.
- The first Romanian shirt factory joins fight against COVID-19, to produce medical equipment: 1949Tarnava from Sighișoara, the first Romanian factory specialising in blouses and shirts, started the production of medical equipment. With a monthly production capacity of 40,000-45,000 disposable medical items, the factory will produce masks and medical gowns, but also auxiliary items such as hospital sheets.
- While FMCG retailers urge for online shopping, delivery apps face functionality issues or can hardly face the increased demand, shows an analysis drawn by Economica.net