Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Coronavirus cases continue to rise in Romania, death toll surpasses 800: The Romanian authorities have confirmed 349 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, which brought the total to 13,512, according to the latest official data released on Monday, May 4, at 13:00. A total of 5,269 confirmed patients were declared cured so far, the same report said. At the same time, the death toll has also risen to 803. By May 4, more than 199,000 tests were processed nationwide.
  • Bucharest hospital uses plasma treatment for COVID-19: Three Covid-19 patients admitted at the intensive care unit of the Matei Balş Infectious Diseases Institute in Bucharest were treated with plasma from recovered patients, local daily Adevarul reported. The three received the treatment on May 1. The plasma therapy is used in addition to the drug treatment.
  • Romania sees 119 new measles cases in a week, total reaches 20,000: In addition to the COVID-19 situation, Romania is also battling an outbreak of measles. A total of 119 new cases of measles were confirmed in Romania last week, bringing the total to 20,000, according to the National Center for Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases (CNSCBT). At the same time, 64 people died in Romania because of the disease, local Hotnews.ro reported.
  • Neighborhood in Buzau City, in quarantine due to COVID-19: The neighborhood Posta in the southeastern city of Buzau, with a population of around 2,000 persons, has been placed in quarantine for 14 days after on Sunday 19 cases were confirmed with COVID-19, of which two children aged up to one year, announced, on Monday morning, the press office of the Buzau County Prefecture.
  • MApN announces that military management team of Suceava County Hospital completed mission: The National Defence Ministry (MApN) has announced on Friday that the military management team of the “Sfantul Ioan cel Nou” County Hospital in Suceava completed the mission. National Defence Minister Nicolae Ciuca thanked the civilian medical staff for the manner in which they collaborated.

 

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Romania replaces state of emergency with state of alert: May 14 will be the last day when Romania will be under the state of emergency due to COVID-19. Starting May 15, the state of emergency will be replaced with the state of alert, president Klaus Iohannis said on Monday, May 4. The state of alert is less restrictive than the state of emergency. “After May 15, we will be able to move freely within localities. We won’t have to declare where we are going. Still, it would be better if we didn’t exaggerate,” president Iohannis said in a press briefing. However, movement restrictions will remain in force in towns under quarantine, he added. “Starting May 15, we will again have access to personal care salons. Dental offices and museums will also open. However, proper social distancing and hygiene conditions must be observed,” Iohannis explained. He also reiterated that everyone would have to wear protective masks in enclosed public spaces and public transport. People will be allowed to do outdoor sports but in groups no larger than three persons. However, this restriction will be waived for professional athletes, who will be able to train in groups, under special conditions. Sports competitions will not resume, however. The president explained that the restrictions would be lifted gradually every two weeks, depending on the epidemiological evolution. Restricting travel from one locality to another and limiting fundamental rights can only be done on the basis of a law passed by Parliament after leaving the state of emergency and establishing the state of alert, says former President of the Constitutional Court Augustin Zegrean, who explained for HotNews.ro what entails the state of alert.
  • Romanian authorities prepare to start new school year online in September: The Romanian authorities are preparing for a scenario in which schools in the country will remain closed in September when the new school year will start. Courses could thus move online, and the local education system should be digitized by then, education minister Monica Anisie said in TV interviews over the weekend. The National Assessment Exam (Capacitate, 8th grade final examination, ed. n.) will kick off on 15 June, and the Baccalaureate exam on 22 June, National Education Minister Monica Anisie told Sunday night private TV broadcaster Digi24. The pupils who are diagnosed with COVID-19 can take the Baccalaureate or National Assessment exams with safety measures, said on Sunday evening Minister of Education Monica Anisie. Meanwhile, the International Federation of Educational Communities – Romania Section (FICE Romania) calls on the Ministry of Education and Research (MEC) to consider holding a single Baccalaureate session in August and the National Assessment Test (Capacitate, e. n.) in the same period but also calling off the organisation of both national exams and exclusively taking into account, as their results, the general averages assigned to the study cycles.
  • Authorities say all scenarios are on the table for May 15: The authorities are looking at several scenarios after May 15, when the state of emergency is to end in the country, as the situation generated by the coronavirus pandemic is still risky, Ionel Dancă, the head of the chancellery of the prime minister said. “All scenarios are on the table. There is the possibility of extending the state of emergency; there is the scenario of changing this and declaring the state of alert, which allows the authorities to adopt restrictive measures but of a narrower reach. There is also the possibility to give up on the state of emergency and run an ample informative campaign to ensure that many comply with the authorities’ recommendations,” Dancă told Digi24 TV station in an interview, quoted by News.ro. In his turn, Raed Arafat, the head of the Emergency Situations Department (DSU), also said malls would probably not reopen immediately after May 15, News.ro reported. Arafat also argued in favor of supplementing the means of public transportation to avoid the crowding of subway trains or buses. Having employees start work at different hours could be another measure that would prevent crowding, he said. Referring to air transport, he explained that the decisions would be taken at an EU level. According to StiripeSurse.ro, such scenarios are considered in light of PNL losing percentages in the latest electoral polls, for fear that an increase of the number of COVID-19 cases would further dent PNL’s ranking in the polls and extending the state of emergency would ensure more control over the situation. Yet, currently all public statements point towards a lifting of restrictions, gradually, from May 15 and not an extension of the state of emergency, which would again need the Parliament’s approval. They are however kept on the table if the situation worsens in the meantime.
  • Minister: Over 300,000 Romanians fined for breaking COVID-19 restrictions: Romanian law enforcement personnel have fined over 300,000 people for breaking the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the authorities under the state of emergency. The value of the fines has reached over RON 600 million (EUR 120 mln), interior minister Marcel Vela said at Digi24 news station on Saturday evening, May 2. He added that the money could be used in the healthcare sector and to help vulnerable people. Minister of Internal Affairs, Marcel Vela, stated, on Monday, that “it is obvious” that abuses are being made by policemen in the case of checks on citizens regarding freedom of movement and advised those who feel wronged to complain with control organisms or contest the fines in court.
  • Emergency situations head: Romanians should get used to the idea of spending their holidays in the country: Romanians should get used to the idea that they will spend their holidays in the country this year, the head of the Emergency Situations Department (DSU), Raed Arafat, said on Thursday evening. He argued that this would prevent local tourists from becoming stranded in an airport somewhere and would also support the local tourism sector, according to Mediafax.
  • Iohannis explains stance on Szeklerland bill: “I have no problem with Hungarian ethnics, but with politicians, particularly with PSD”: President Klaus Iohannis has given further explanations today on his stance taken last week against the law on the Szeklerland autonomy. “I made some statements last week. I have no problem at all with the Hungarian ethnics. I respect them. The large majority of them are nice, hardworking people. I have a problem though with the politicians, especially with PSD that tried to promote a draft bill on the Szeklerland autonomy. It’s surprising and upsetting,” Iohannis argued.  Meanwhile, Interim Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Marcel Ciolacu has filed a complaint on Monday with the National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) against President Klaus Iohannis, following the latter’s statements regarding the “agreement” between Social-Democrats and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) on the draft law on the autonomy of the Szeklerland. The draft law initiated by the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR), which passed the Senate by tacit approval, will be rejected by the Deputies’ Chamber, Senate Vice-President and Social Democratic Party (PSD) Senator Robert Cazanciuc said on Monday, after the meeting of the Standing Bureau. Furthermore,  the Joint Standing Committees of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate for the exercise of parliamentary control over the activity of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) is to hold a meeting on Tuesday, 2 p.m., to ask SRI for an official opinion regarding the statement made by President Klaus Iohannis on April 28 with respect to the tacit adoption of the UDMR (Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania) draft law regarding the autonomy of the Szekerland. ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, ed. n.) chairman, Senator Calin Popescu-Tariceanu has announced that he will submit a request to the Standing Bureau of the Senate requesting the start of proceedings to invite “before the Parliament” of president Klaus Iohannis for the latter’s presentation of evidence of a possible understanding on the autonomy of the Szeklerland “between a parliamentary party of Romania and a foreign power”.
  • USR Bucharest proposes public transportation system capacity be reduced to 30pct: USR (Save Romania Union) Bucharest proposes six measures to be taken in the case of the public transportation system after May 15, among which the limitation of this system’s capacity to 30 per cent and avoiding face to face contact between passengers.
  • Senate Standing Bureau decides to hear ForMin Aurescu and LabMin Alexandru in specialist committees on Thursday: The Standing Bureau of the Senate has decided on Monday that Foreign Affairs Minister Bogdan Aurescu and Labour Minister Violeta Alexandru be heard on Thursday in the Joint Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Labour Committees of the Senate, regarding the measures which the Government has taken for protecting the Romanian workers abroad during the pandemic. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a reply saying that it absolutely necessary to avoid politicizing foreign policy issues, as well as taking positions that may undeservedly affect the reputation of the diplomatic and consular corps of Romania, following the statements of the interim president of the Senate, Robert Cazanciuc, who said that he expects “diplomats to leave the trust in the salon projects and to check what the Romanian or foreign press presents daily as the sufferings of Romanian workers”.
  • EU Funds Minister Bolos: 75,000 health workers to collect risk incentive: Budget allocations for the payment of the financial incentive to coronavirus frontline medical personnel amount to 120 million euros and will cover 75,000 beneficiaries, but the funds will be supplemented if necessary, Minister of European Funds Marcel Bolos said on Monday.
  • Gov’t approves Memorandum to initiate procedures to access European funds from Just Transition Mechanism: The Government approved on Thursday the Memorandum to initiate the necessary procedures for accessing European funds from the Just Transition Mechanism, head of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery Ionel Danca announced. The Just Transition Mechanism is a key-instrument designed to help Europe to become climate-neutral by 2050.

 

 

Impact on the economy

  • Carmakers Dacia and Ford resume operations at their factories in Romania after COVID-19 halt: Romanian carmaker Automobile Dacia, part of French group Renault, resumed operations at its industrial platform in Mioveni, near Pitesti, on Monday, May 4. U.S. carmaker Ford also restarted activity at its car plant in Craiova, southern Romania, on May 4. Both producers suspended operations after the state of emergency was decreed in Romania due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in mid-March.
  • InfoCons consumer protection association requests postponement of HoReCa establishments’ reopening: The InfoCons consumer protection association is calling on the Romanian authorities to postpone the reopening of hotels and restaurants from May 15, as “social distancing is impossible to implement, which will facilitate the spread of COVID-19“.
  • Tourism employers’ associations on losses at the Black Sea resorts due to coronavirus: Tourism businesses risk to die if work does not resume from May 15th and, as we approach summer, every day is absolutely vital for the tourism industry, the chairman of the Prahova Tourism Promotion and Development Association, Adi Voican told AGERPRES on Friday.
  • Some 300,000 Romanian employees return to work: Some 0.3 million workers, half of them in the manufacturing sector, might return to work as of May 4, according to estimates of Ziarul Financiar daily based on the drop in the number of suspended labor contracts.
  • Romanian lender BCR posts 60% stronger profit in Q1: Romanian lender BCR, part of Austrian group Erste Bank Group, announced a net profit of RON 428 million (EUR 89.3 mln) in the first quarter of the year (Q1), up 60% compared to the same period of the previous year. “We know the concerns of our customers: uncertainty, business loss, job losses, employees’ health, and we are prepared to save as many jobs as possible. We are strong. The strategy implemented in the past years, which included fast digitization and caution in risk assessment, proves its validity. We have an important role in restarting the economy, and we are ready to assume it,” he added.
  • Romania’s biggest lender sees 40% profit drop in Q1: Banca Transilvania, the largest bank in Romania by assets, reported its net profit dropped by 40% in the first quarter of the year (Q1) to RON 261 million (EUR 53.8 mln). “We had a strong start of the year, but, after the first two months, we had to quickly adapt to a new reality and we shifted our focus on supporting customers, the economy, authorities, and communities,” said Banca Transilvania CEO Ömer Tetik. His statement suggests that the lower net profit was due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Economic Sentiment Indicator in Romania plunges to past two decades’ low: The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) in the European Union (EU) crashed by 28.8 points in April to 65.8 points, according to data released by the European Commission.
  • Romania’s EU funds minister announces EUR 1 bln stimulus package for SMEs: Romania’s Government plans to launch a EUR 1 bln stimulus package for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The program will be financed from the European Union budget, EU funds minister Marcel Bolos announced on Thursday, April 30. He added that this budget “has doubled” during the negotiations, local Agerpres reported. Based on past statements of Government officials, this seems to be the second package of anti-crisis measures, aimed at restarting economic activity – after a first package, worth EUR 810 million, was aimed at mitigating the effects of the crisis.
  • Romania’s EUR 1 bln HR market to shrink by 15% in 2020: The local market for human resources (HR) services, which has reached some RON 4.9 billion (just over EUR 1 bln), will decrease by about 15% in 2020. This is the first correction for this industry in a decade, determined by market maturation and the coronavirus pandemic, according to a KeysFin study quoted by News.ro.
  • CBRE Romania: Real estate investment volumes in 2020 will be about 50% lower than initially expected: The real estate investment volumes in 2020 will be about 50% lower than originally expected before the crisis caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, according to Gijs Klomp, Head of Investment Properties, CBRE Romania. He also said that “only in 2021, we will see a return to volumes over EUR 1 billion.”
  • Robot processing applications for deferral of bank loans designed by Romanian start-up, UiPath Gold partner: Future WorkForce start-up launches a solution that takes over payment deferral applications submitted to banks, assess them and then integrates all the details for faster and more efficient processing by the back-office employees of these institutions. The robot processes applications submitted by persons and companies that are in one of the situations stipulated by OUG 37/2020.
  • BNR’s foreign exchange reserves stand at EUR 33,156 million, at end-April: On 30 April 2020, the National Bank of Romania’s foreign exchange reserves stood at EUR 33,156 million compared to EUR 34,123 million on 31 March 2020, according to a BNR release sent to AGERPRES on Monday.
  • Over 20,000 applications on SME Invest portal, sent to banks: Over 37,000 SMEs have so far registered on the SME Invest portal, and 20,139 applications have been sent to the banks chosen by the participants, the general manager of the National Credit Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises (FNGCIMM), Dumitru Nancu told AGERPRES on Monday.
  • Ministry of Finance has scheduled more than 4 billion lei in loans from banks in May: The Ministry of Public Finance (MFP) planned, in May 2020, loans from commercial banks of 4.065 billion lei, of which 500 million lei through a issue of discount treasury certificates and 3.1 billion lei through seven issues of state bonds, to which the amount of 465 million lei can be added through additional sessions of non-competitive offers , related to bond auctions.
  • Rompetrol gas stations during the pandemic: fuel sales plummet, but stations sell dairy products, sausages and detergents: Declining fuel consumption has also hit Rompetrol gas stations, and to meet consumer demand, gas stations have become mini-markets and put up for sale goods that are strictly necessary for household consumption, from food to detergents.
  • Retailer Kaufland has launched a new service, which delivers packages of products at home in all localities in the parcel delivery firms coverage area
  • Proposals of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for restarting the economy: In the context of the need to reduce the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national business environment, the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry together with its members – County Chambers of Commerce and Industry have carried out a consultation of the business community at national level on the public policies needed to be implemented in economic, financial, investment, labor market and agricultural fields.