Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Threshold of 4,000 cases overall exceeded, 193 new ones: The coronavirus death toll climbed to 157 on Monday morning, after 11 more victims haven been announced. The Strategic Communication Group has announced that 4,057 cases of coronavirus have been reported in Romania so far by Monday, April 6, 13:00hrs, with 193 new cases. Out of them, 406 were declared cured and were discharged from hospitals. Health minister Nelu Tataru himself was tested again, after one secretary of state in his ministry had been confirmed with Coronavirus. The minister tested negative. Secretary of State for Emergency Situations Raed Arafat told Digi 24 that the state of emergency might be extended for one more month. A decision in this respect might be taken next week. “I don’t think we’ll get out of the stage of countering the virus before the end of May”, Arafat said.
- Critical situation at the Ambulance services in the country: 80 medical staff employed by the ambulance services in Romania got infected with COVID-19, while 219 stay isolated at home. The figures were presented by the representatives of the “Ambulance” National Trade Union.
Political and regulatory
- Romania’s Parliament approves new moratorium on bank loan service: All natural persons and a broad category of companies will be able to defer the payment of their bank loan installments by the end of the year, according to a law voted by the Parliament on Friday, April 3. The bill still needs to be promulgated by president Klaus Iohannis. Notably, the law competes with an ordinance issued by the Government, which already produces effects but has to be endorsed (and can be amended) by the Parliament. PNL, the only party who voted against the bill, has asked the Constitutional Court to check the law, accusing that the bill fails to evaluate the impact on the budget and the financing source. Acting Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Marcel Ciolacu considers that challenging at the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) the social and economic measures initiated by the Social Democrats and voted in Parliament hurts Romanians and the Romanian companies that were now waiting for real support from the state. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Florin Cîțu announced that a portal will be launched where clients can report banks that breach the Ordinance on postponing bank loans.
- Romanian Parliament endorses law to defer firms’, households’ bills: A large majority of parties in Romania’s Parliament, including all parties but the ruling National Liberal Party (PNL), passed on Friday (April 3) a bill that gives household consumers and a broad category of companies the right to defer their utilities bills (save those owed to telecom operators) for three months and pay the deferred bills in installments with zero interest rate, Hotnews.ro reported. Separately, the firms that demonstrate financial losses generated by the coronavirus pandemic – specifically, firms whose revenues in March decreased by at least 15% compared to January-February average, can defer for three months the social security contributions related to the wages paid to their employees. However, the companies must agree to maintain the personnel for at least 12 months. In exchange, the firms will be waived 50% of the deferred social security contribution and the remaining 50% will be paid in installments with zero interest rate.
- Romania’s Govt. ready to subsidise interest for EUR 3.1 bln loans to SMEs: Romania’s Government will provide guarantees for investment and working capital loans extended by banks to microenterprises, small and medium sized enterprises, and will subsidize the related interest plus other fees. The budget of the program, which includes the interest, fees and insurance fees related to the loans, is estimated at RON 781 mln (EUR 161 mln), Economica.net reported.
- Covid-19 pandemic in Romania to peak at 10,000-15,000 infected in second half of April: The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in Romania is expected to reach the peak in terms of infected persons in the second half of April, health minister Nelu Tataru said on Friday, April 3. He estimated the size of the peak at 10,000 to 15,000 patients (at the same time), depending on how well the social distancing is observed, local Mediafax reported.
- DefMin Ciuca: NATO plays an important role in fighting crisis generated by COVID-19: The Minister of National Defence, Nicolae Ciuca, on Sunday underscored, in his message for the NATO Day, that the North Atlantic Alliance has been playing an important role in battling the crisis generated by COVID-19. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban hailed the support provided by NATO and its willingness to further assist member states and partner states with logistics, expertise and medical staff, as he felt encouraged by the appreciation expressed by the NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg for the measures Romania has been implemented so far in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
- PM Orban: We have agreements concluded for 400 breathing devices; we also try to produce: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Saturday stated that Romania has concluded agreements with various suppliers for 400 breathing devices, but that the delivery timetable was not observed and that solutions for domestic production are also being sought. He mentioned that he discussed with the Secretary of State Raed Arafat and with the Minister of Health, Nelu Tataru, about the possibility of repairing some broken breathing devices so that 80-100 additional devices could be put into operation.
- PM Ludovic Orban reiterated warnings that Romanians who will be coming home from for Easter risk being placed under quarantine and spend their holiday there, considering that very many countries are now red on the virus map. Approximately 22,700 persons, Romanian and foreign citizens, and more than 13,600 means of transportation have transited the border checkpoints in the past 24 hours, the General Inspectorate of the Border Police informed on Sunday. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Sunday evening that after the first wave of the epidemic passes, it will matter very much what citizens do, especially business people, and solidarity “must become a common thing” to get through the tough times.
- Orban on wearing masks: You cannot impose obligation as long as masks not accessible to people: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Sunday evening that he recommends the use of protective masks, but the obligation cannot be imposed as long as the production capacity cannot be ensured so that every citizen can purchase their own masks at reasonable prices. The prime minister also said that talks are being conducted with the representatives of some companies for accreditation so that they can produce masks. Vaslui, Galati, Iasi and Maramures counties imposed the obligation of wearing protective masks for the population. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban also said on Sunday evening that at this moment tests are being conducted as much as necessary for COVID-19, adding that Romania now has 37 accredited testing centers, and next week another 15 PCR devices will come.
- Romania has relaxed restrictions on the export of disinfectants: The Romanian state has relaxed the restrictions imposed in March regarding exports of biocidal products and raw materials used to manufacture them, to allow the fulfillment of ongoing contracts, but also the transit of such goods intended for other countries.
- Minister of European Funds Marcel Bols estimated the total value of risk bonuses for doctors at EUR 120 million. They will be granted to the entire medical staff caring for patients in hospitals, not only to doctors, the minister said.
- Ministry of Economy announces that it has launched the Emergency Situation Certificates issuing portal: The Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment announced that it launched the portal for issuing Emergency Situation Certificates, so that economic operators can request them. The certificates are issued exclusively online, free of charge, through the electronic signature is needed from the applicant.
Impact on the economy
- Wizz Air suspends routes from Romania to UK, The Netherlands and Switzerland: Wizz Air has announced today that has suspended its routes between Romania and Great Britain, Switzerland and The Netherlands starting from the 5 April until the 18 April. The measure is due to new travel restrictions imposed by Romanian authorities on all flights from Romania to these countries in the efforts to limit the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of the restrictions from Romania and all over Europe, the routes to Belgium, Austria, Spain, France and Germany remain suspended until the 30 April.
- Ford keeps its factory in Romania closed until beginning of May: U.S. carmaker Ford confirmed on April 3 that most of its European vehicle and engine factories, which suspended production on March 19, would remain closed at least until May 4.
- Antibiotice Iași asked for authorization to produce biocides. OMV Petrom follows: Drug maker Antibiotice Iași has requested an authorization to start production of two types of biocides, while oil and gas company OMV Petrom will also request one too, said Economy, Energy and Business Minister Virgil Popescu. As for Farmec Cluj, the Minister of Economy said that next week it will have the approval and authorization for the production of biocides.
- Competition Council to monitor prices at small stores and farmers’ markets in the coming period: President of the Competition Council, Bogdan Chiriţoiu, announced on Saturday that the institution will monitor in the next period the prices at small stores and farmers’ markets, but also at drugstores for OTC drugs, because “we have to understand what is going on there.” In his opinion, the price of some categories of basic food products registered increases, on average, by 10-15% in the first part of March at big retail chains, through prices have currently returned to the previous levels. On the other hand, Chiriţoiu a substantial decrease was observed on fuel prices.