Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Romania reports 119 coronavirus cases in 24 hours: Romania reported 119 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 19,517 on Tuesday, June 2, at 13:00, the authorities announced. It is the lowest number of daily cases in the past two months. Of the total cases, 13,526 patients have recovered and were discharged from the hospital.  By the same date, 1,279 people diagnosed with the Covid-19 infection have died, while 166 patients were admitted to intensive care units. So far, 448,813 tests have been carried out at a national level.  Professor Horațiu Moldovan, Secretary of State with the Ministry of Health, told Digi24 that the official figures on the evolution of the pandemic in Romania show that our country has reached the peak. “We have passed the peak. The peak was a plateau phase. In recent days there has been a clear decrease from day to day. There are 166 patients in intensive care, only 20% are mechanically ventilated. We are on a downward slope”, said Moldovan, who added that Romanians will be able to go on vacation, but in compliance with prevention measures.
  • Suceava County, Bucharest City topping Romania’s COVID-19 case count: The north-eastern Suceava County and Bucharest City further report Romania’s first and second-highest numbers of coronavirus infection cases: 3,534 and 2,036, respectively, the Strategic Communication Group (GCS) informs.

 

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Minister: Romania’s offshore law amended only after elections: Romania’s Offshore Law, seen by the operators of Black Sea perimeters as a significant obstacle in their investment decisions, will be amended after the parliamentary elections, economy and energy minister Virgil Popescu said, Economica.net reported. Changing the law in line with the investors’ expectations requires a political consensus – more than just a majority coalition, he added, reminding of the amendments proposed by the former ruling Social Democrat Government and later changed in the last moment by the Social Democrat MPs.
  • Romanian PM dismisses Govt. reshuffle reports: The media reports about a potential Government reshuffle are “inventions,” prime minister Ludovic Orban told local television station Digi24.ro. He argued that such reports are meant to undermine the authority of those who are allegedly targeted in such a move and said the “reshuffle is done not talked about.”
  • Opposition leader asks Romanian PM’s resignation after controversial photo becomes viral, PM pays fine: The leader of Romania’s biggest opposition party PSD, Marcel Ciolacu, says prime minister Ludovic Orban (PNL) should resign after a photo taken in his office last week went viral on Facebook, Hotnews.ro reported. The photo shows Orban smoking in his office, surrounded by some of his ministers, some of whom are either smoking or drinking. The PM came with an explanation saying that the photo had been taken on his birthday (May 25) when he had a small gathering with some of his colleagues, after the working hours. The Government issued a statement on Saturday, May 30, saying that the PM paid two fines worth a total of RON 3,000 (EUR 618) for not wearing a mask and for smoking in the office. Meanwhile, PLUS party president Dacian Ciolos noted that the payment of the fine by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban does not represent “a political merit”.
  • Gov’t to roll out support program for large companies: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said that as part of the economic relaunch measures, the government will roll out a program to support large companies through a trade credit insurance guarantee system. The Prime Minister announced that the government will use “all the possible instruments to support investments”, including by creating an investment fund capitalized from budget resources or European funds, “to the extent we will be allowed to”.
  • Orban: Nicusor Dan is the candidate we support for Bucharest Mayor; we don’t change on whim: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said that the National Liberal Party (PNL) will continue to support, together with the Save Romania Union – Party of Liberty, Unity and Solidarity (USR-PLUS) Alliance, and possibly the People’s Movement Party (PMP), Nicusor Dan as candidate for the Bucharest Mayor, emphasizing that the PNL is not changing its decision. He emphasized that some news websites “invent” information, refuting the information according to which MEP Rares Bogdan had criticized, at party meetings, the lack of public presence of the PNL’s candidate for Bucharest Mayor.
  • Orban: Increase of pensions, realistically, yet by 40pct – a PSD brand hot potato: The Government’s objective is to increase pensions “realistically, on the basis of economic realities”, said on Monday night Prime minister Ludovic Orban at the private TV broadcaster Digi24, adding that raising them by 40pct would be “a hot potato, which was prepared in advance by the PSD”. He assured that pensions would increase “realistically” and told pensioners that he would try to make “an increase that would lead to an improvement in the standard of living”. Romania’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) is urging the Liberal Government to observe the law and double the children allowance as of August 1, or else PSD MPs will file a no-confidence motion.
  • Shopping malls in Romania could reopen on June 15: Shopping malls in Romania could reopen on June 15, “if things go well,” economy minister Virgil Popescu said, quoted by local daily Adevarul. The minister said talks with representatives of mall owners would be held on Tuesday, June 2. “If we are easing restrictions, and things go well, it seems normal to be able to reopen large stores at the end of these two weeks. […] If things go well, we want to bring life back to normal faster,” Popescu said.
  • PSD spokesman: Simple motions against Labor, Development Ministers might hit Parliament next week: The simple motions announced by the opposition’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) against Labor Minister Violeta Alexandru and Minister of Public Works and Development Ion Stefan will most likely be submitted to Parliament next week, the party’s spokesman Lucian Romascanu told a press conference on Sunday.
  • AgriMin Oros says future National Strategic Program will encourage family farms: Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Adrian Oros declared on Friday in Oradea that the authorities plan to encourage until 2023 farming association, processing, storage, but also family farms, with the latter being the focus of the future National Strategic Program (PNS).
  • IntMin Vela announces restriction-free cross-border traffic with Hungary as of 21:00 hrs: Minister of the Interior Marcel Vela declared on Friday that Hungary has lifted the restriction under which travelers were allowed to transit the neighboring country’s territory only within certain time intervals, so that traffic from Romania to Hungary can carry on continuously; this is expected to eliminate crowding at certain border checkpoints.
  • Orban: It’s important that Romanian company succeeds in a very short time in making surgical masks: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban underscored on Friday, at the end of his visit to the Techtex factory in Targu Lapus, Maramures County, the importance of the fact that a Romanian company succeeds in a very short time in making surgical masks and FFP2 ones.
  • IntMin Vela: Activity of open air, indoor and olympic swimming pools is in no way resumed from June 1: Minister of Internal Affairs Marcel Vela stated on Friday that the open air, indoor, and Olympic swimming pools, will not be open since June 1, only beaches, in certain conditions. He mentioned that people will be able to go to the beach, if the health safety measures are respected.
  • Czech Republic relaunches tourism and considers Romania a “green” country. Romanians will not need to make proof of a negative test: The Czech Republic will allow its citizens to travel, from June 15, to most European countries without being required to make proof of a negative test for the new coronavirus. At the same time, it announced that tourists from 19 countries deemed safe, including Romania, will benefit from the same conditions.
  • StateSec Havrilet: Natural gas market prices at all-time low, timing favorable for liberalization: Prices on the natural gas market are currently at an all-time low, starting at 25 lei per MWh on Romania’s neighboring markets, whereas at the beginning of the liberalization process in 2012, the administrative price was 45 lei per MWh, Secretary of state in the Ministry of Economy Niculae Havrilet said on Tuesday. The official also said that Romania’s Integrated National Plan for Energy and Climate Change signed by the ministers of Environment and of Economy & Energy has been notified to the European Commission and is now awaiting the environmental assessment to enter the approval procedure.
  • Orban called Liberal MPs to the Government for relieve some of the tensions within the party (sources): PNL deputies and senators are meeting on Tuesday, at the Victoria Palace, with Prime Minister Ludovic Orban. The meeting takes place in the context in which inside the PNL there is a series of animosities between ministers and parliamentarians. Also, recently there have been a number of legislative initiatives announced by PNL MPs without the approval of the party leadership. Liberal sources told HotNews.ro that within the party there is a state of tension between the leadership and parliamentarians, and the meeting set at the Government has the role of mediating the conflict. One day ago, for example, PNL MP Matei Dobrovie announced a legislative initiative proposing measures to support the most vulnerable families in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The bill was not debated within the party but was assumed and the announcement made by Dobrovie took the PNL leaders by surprise and upset them.

 

Impact on the economy

  • Romania’s restaurant industry expected to lose some 5,000 locations nationwide: Romania’s restaurant industry will lose around 5,000 locations nationwide, about 10% of the total, as these locations will not be able to reopen moving forward, Chairman of Romania’s Hotel and Restaurant Employers’ Organisation (HORA) Daniel Mischie, told a news conference on Monday. He said that financially, the restaurant industry is losing 400 million euros a month, but the biggest loss is a qualified workforce.
  • Romania’s hospitality industry could face losses of one billion euros in 2020: The estimated losses in Romania’s hospitality industry this year will approach one billion euros, Calin Ile, chairman of the Federation of the Romanian Hospitality Industry (FIHR) told a news conference on Monday. He said that moving forward he wants the government to come up, in addition to the measures dedicated to the workforce and the infusion of capital, with measures to stimulate tourist movement that inspire confidence. He added that, unfortunately, SME Invest does not explicitly solve the problem in the HORECA industry, because many in this industry are unbankable.
  • Renault might relocate research and development activities out of RO: The activity of Renault Techologie Roumanie (RTR), the primary research and development center for the Renault group’s entry platform – used for the Logan, Sandero, Duster, Lodgy and Dokker models, is called into question, Ziarul Financiar reported. RTR employs almost 4,000 engineers in Romania, in Bucharest and Titu, where Renault has one of its largest testing centers.
  • Continental will invest 33 million euro to expand research-development center in Timisoara: Continental has started works to expand the research and development center in western Timisoara, the planned investment in the new building being 33 million euro, according to a release of the company sent, on Tuesday, to AGERPRES.
  • Many hotel owners in RO could sell their properties after lockdown: Many hotel owners in Romania will put their properties up for sale this year, said Calin Ile, president of the Romanian Hotel Industry Federation (FIHR), Profit.ro reported. He estimates that only in March, April, and May, local hotels lost EUR 240 million in revenues, the equivalent of about 6 million overnight stays.
  • Romanian banks’ profits 9% down in Q1: The aggregated profit of Romanian banks decreased by 9% in the first quarter of this year (Q1) compared to the same period last year, to RON 1.61 billion (EUR 334 million), according to calculations based on the profitability ratios published by Romania’s National Bank (BNR) on May 31.
  • Untold, Neversea, Electric Castle and Summer Well festivals postponed for 2021: The organizers of Untold and Neversea festivals, usually held every summer in Romania, have announced that the editions scheduled for this year will be postponed due to the restrictions imposed by authorities over the Coronavirus pandemic. In a press release, the organizers mentioned that the spectators who had already bought tickets and passes for the 2020 editions will be able to use them at the editions in the upcoming three years.
  • Confidence among RO companies, households recovers in May: The sentiment of the population and companies in Romanian improved in May after a sharp decline in the previous month, triggered by the COVID-19 restrictions. The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI), which measures the confidence in a given economy, rose from an 18-year low of 65.3 points in April to 72.2 points in Romania, according to data from the European Commission.
  • Romania’s central bank lowers inflation forecast on subdued demand: Romania’s National Bank (BNR) has reduced the projected headline inflation estimates compared to its February forecast, to 2.8% at end-2020 (from 2.7% in April), and 2.5% at end-2021. The figure for December is 0.2 percentage points lower than in the previous Inflation Report, and the forecast for next year is 0.7 pp lower.
  • Biggest RO companies may be asked to support EU recovery plan: The largest Romanian companies by turnover, including the automobile producers, oil companies, telecom operators, energy distribution firms, and retailers, may have to contribute to financing the EUR 750 billion recovery plan proposed by the European Commission, according to Ziarul Financiar daily.
  • Romania should use EU recovery grants for hospitals, schools and highways: Romania should use most of the EUR 19.6 billion allotted to it under the proposed EUR 750 bln EU recovery plan, namely EUR 13.5 bln, to fulfill the European Commission’s recommendations in the European Semester report. The key priorities singled out in the report are the healthcare, education, and infrastructure – particularly transport infrastructure, said the European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean, quoted by Deutsche Welle.
  • Romania’s “mall king” will develop EUR 2.9 bln multifunctional complex around Bucharest’s exhibition center: Romania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIR) and Iulian Dascalu – one of the biggest real estate investors in Romania, will transform the Romexpo exhibition center in Bucharest into the biggest mixed real estate project in the country. The planned investment is EUR 2.87 billion, making this one of Europe’s most significant urban regeneration projects.
  • Romania’s central bank decides new monetary policy rate cut to help economy recover from COVID-19: Romania’s National Bank (BNR) decided on Friday, May 29, to cut the monetary policy rate from 2% to 1.75% per year, starting June 2, 2020. The central bank’s board also lowered the deposit facility rate from 1.5% to 1.25% per annum, and the lending (Lombard) facility rate from 2.5% to 2.25%. BNR will also continue to conduct repo transactions and purchase RON-denominated government securities on the secondary market to boost liquidity on the money market.
  • Romanian carrier Tarom increases frequency of domestic flights: Romanian flag carrier Tarom announced on Facebook that it would increase the frequency of two of its domestic flights out of Bucharest. Starting June 8, the company will fly two times a day from Bucharest to Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara, and return, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Highway Builders propose a solution for 500,000 Romanians who returned in the country: We have jobs on construction sites: The Romanian Association of Highway Builders proposes to hire Romanians who have returned to the country during this period, given that construction sector needs 500,000 employees.
  • Three-month interbank offered rate dips to 2.29 ppa on Tuesday: Romania’s three-month interbank offered rate ROBOR, which is used for pricing floating rate consumer loans in RON, dropped on Tuesday to 2.98 ppa from 2.40 ppa on May 30, the National Bank of Romania (BNR) informed.