Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • 360 new Coronavirus cases, 4,417 overall: 360 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Romania in the past 24 hours, with the total number climbing to 4,417. Among those 4,417 people infected, 460 were declared cured and were discharged from hospitals. The death toll has climbed to 182, the Strategic Communication Group informed.
  • Doctors, nurses at Suceava County Hospital to be quarantined: The doctors and nurses working at the Suceava County Hospital, the biggest Covid-19 hotspot in Romania, will be placed under institutionalized quarantine, general-major Ionel Oprea, a state secretary with the Health Ministry, told Monitorul de Suceava on Monday, April 6.

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Romania’s president to extend state of emergency due to COVID-19 by another month: Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis announced on Monday, April 6, that he will issue another decree next week to extend the state of emergency in the country by another month. The president decreed the state of emergency on March 16 to allow the authorities to enforce stricter measures against the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Iohannis also said that the measures implemented by the Government through military ordinances, since he decreed the state of emergency, have had positive effects. On the bright side, the president said that Romania will receive, starting this week, 2.5 million masks for the medical personnel, 5 million masks for the gendarmes and policemen in charge of maintaining public order, and about 8 million masks that will reach the population. At the same time, some 500,000 protection suits for doctors will arrive in the country. The President also announced that Romania will send to Italy, in the Milan area, a team of 11 doctors and six nurses. DSU head Raed Arafat pointed out that the extension of the state of emergency is a good measure, as Romania will likely confront with more severe situations than those seen so far.
  • Govt. defers local elections for later this year: The local elections in Romania, initially scheduled for June, will be deferred to a date to be later decided – but before the end of this year, according to an emergency ordinance draft to be adopted by the Government in its April 6 meeting. Reportedly, September and October are considered for the date of the local elections, while the parliamentary elections might be held at the same time or at a close date. The Government has adopted the Emergency Ordinance that envisages the extension of mandates for local authorities and has decided to reduce to half the number of signatures necessary to submit candidacies in the local elections, the head of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, Ionel Danca announced.
  • RO public deficit to rise “significantly” under first budget revision: Romania will likely record a significant increase in the budget deficit, president Klaus Iohannis said on Monday, April 6, referring to the imminent revision of the budget planning for this year. “More money is needed in the public health sector, but more money is also needed for social assistance, technical unemployment and unemployment – all must be paid,” he added. It is going to be a complicated situation, “not likely to settle by itself” so the Government must run a thorough analysis, the president concluded. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said that the Public Finance Minister would present a briefing in the Government meeting regarding the budget revision draft, with the revision decision to also be based on the prognosis drawn up by at the level of the National Commission for Strategy and Prognosis.
  • Govt. may announce softer pension hike in September along with budget revision: Romania’s Liberal Government considers postponing, or downsizing, the 40% pension hike that was programmed to take place this September in line with a law passed last year by the majority formed by the Social Democrats and Liberal Democrat Alliance, G4media reported quoting sources familiar with the topic. The cost of the hike is estimated at RON 8 billion (EUR 1.66 billion, 0.7% of GDP) this year alone with a proportionally bigger impact in 2021. Notably, the Government is expected to come up with the first budget revision this week and president Klaus Iohannis has urged the executive to provide a comprehensive analysis including the whole year.
  • Gov’t completes adoption procedures for coronavirus support measures: The government has finalized the procedures for the adoption and implementation of the economic support measures for companies and employees affected by the COVID-19 crisis, announced the head of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, Ionel Danca. Referring to the furlough subsidy measure applicable during the state of emergency, he said that “the procedure is already unfolding at the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. Danca said that the package includes a measure to support the SMEs’ working capital and investment loans, and mentioned that the decision to defer bank installments for individuals, as well as for legal entities facing difficulty as a result of the coronavirus epidemic is being enforced after the publication of the relevant guidelines in the Official Journal. He also mentioned that several regulatory acts have been adopted to digitize and streamline relations with public institutions, requiring public authorities to accept electronic documents and electronic documents with e-signature, and that the possibility of remote medical consultations has also been introduced.
  • PSD’s Ciolacu: Retail prices could freeze at last three months levels: Social Democratic Party (PSD) acting national chairman Marcel Ciolacu said Monday that retail prices being frozen at their last three months levels could be a solution at this time, adding that he had a discussion with representatives of the big food store chains about actual solutions that can be applied so that food prices return to normal and consumers be protected. He added that he also discussed with the representatives a PSD initiative regarding the promotion of Romanian products.
  • USR’s Barna: We believe state needs to make sacrifices not to ask Romanians to make sacrifices themselves: Save Romania Union (USR) believes that, in the context of the state of emergency caused by the novel coronavirus, the state is the one that should make the most sacrifices, instead of asking the average Romanians to make sacrifices themselves, said the leader of this party, Dan Barna.
  • Florin Cîţu: We do not plan salary cuts or layoffs for public clerks: The Minister of Public Finance, Florin Cîţu, states that, at the moment, there is no project in the ministry regarding the restructuring of the budgetary apparatus or cuts of salaries in the public sector, but an analysis is being made to determine the non-essential expenses that can be waived or deferred for next year, Agerpres. He added that all budget expenditures are being analyzed, but “we are not looking at personnel costs for the moment.”
  • At video conference of EU ministers, senior defence policy official Cojocaru discusses Army’s part in combating COVID-19: Senior official for defence policy, planning and international affairs with Romania’s Defence Ministry (MApN) Simona Cojocaru attended on Monday an informal videoconference of the EU defence ministers that included discussing the role of the Army in fighting against the COVID-19 virus. According to a MApN press release, the participants presented the efforts deployed at national level to contain the virusAt the same time, discussions focused on coordinating efforts to support the continuity of EU missions and operations, while ensuring staff safety. Cojocaru highlighted the MApN efforts to contain the virus.
  • HealthMin Tataru – message on World Health Day: Each life saved matters – is the message sent on Tuesday by Health Minister Nelu Tataru, on the occasion of World Health Day, to all those working in the field, showing that health workers knew how to mobilize and join forces when it was necessary. He hailed the activity of the nurses and midwives and emphasized the “vital role” that they play in maintaining citizens’ health “especially at this time”.
  • The Minister of the Environment, Water and Forestry, Costel Alexe, has had consultations with specialists from the ministry, as well as with several economic operators, organizations and associations, to analyze the possibility of stopping legal woodcutting in forests throughout the state of emergency, requested by a part of the civil society. After a thorough analysis of the situation, the measures was deemed not beneficial for people, the environment and the economy. “I understand people’s feelings and concerns. That is why, in the last military ordinance that was issued we included the presence of forestry guards in the verification of the transport of wood material. We issued a ministerial order withdrawing the exploitation certificate to all those who illegally cut timber,” Alexe said in a statement referring to joint checks to be conducted by the forestry guard alongside the military, a measure set out in the latest military ordinance to prevent the illegal woodcutting by those who would exploit the current context.
  • CCR discusses on May 6 the constitutionality complaint regarding the draft law on granting fiscal facilities for companies:  The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) announced it will discuss PNL’s complaint against the draft law on granting facilities for the taxpayers of economic operators on May 6.
  • The Romanian Ecologist Party (PER) calls on the Government to restrict the export of cereals this year: The Romanian Ecologist Party urges the Government to restrict the export of cereals this year. The government needs to properly assess the national need in order not to enter a food crisis caused by the excessive export, said Marius Necula, vice president of PER.
  • The Ministry of Education will hold a press conference from 2 PM, expected to make an announcement on when school classes might be resumed

 

Impact on the economy

  • Tarom suspends flights to and from Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands and UK: Tarom national flag carrier has announced today it’s suspending all flights to and from Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands and UK until April 20 and will extend the suspension of flights operated to and from Germany and France during April 9-22.
  • Novartis supports the Romanian healthcare system to fight against COVID-19 pandemic: In the context of the global spread of COVID-19, Novartis Group in announces that they will support with around 380.000 USD (1.700.000 RON) the National Society of Red Cross from Romania, to contribute to creating an emergency fund for protection equipment, materials, goods, and other medical equipment, which are critical at this stage for the safety of the Romanian medical staff and for treating COVID-19 patients.
  • Romania’s investors ask for EUR 30 bln “shock therapy” to save economy from long-term Covid-19 recession: Some of the biggest business organizations in Romania and hundreds of local investors, entrepreneurs and managers have initiated a “Call for Saving the Economy” asking the state authorities for an economic stimulus package worth EUR 30 billion, the equivalent of 15% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). They warn that the local economy could collapse in the absence of massive state involvement. The business organizations and investors believe that the Government should intervene directly in the economy with an economic stimulus package worth about EUR 30 billion or 15% of GDP.
  • Work on real estate office projects in Bucharest continue, albeit at slower rate: Office buildings totaling about 450,000 square meters are under construction in Bucharest, with completion scheduled in 2020 to 2022, and the developers have kept the construction sites active, with all the necessary sanitary protections for workers.
  • Romania receives over EUR 2 bln for farmers this year already: The European Commission has disbursed to Romania over EUR 2 billion this year to finance the state’s expenditures for direct payments to farmers. A tranche of EUR 91.7 million was transferred on Friday to the Agriculture Ministry’s account, the ministry announced on Monday, April 6.
  • Largest film festival in Romania, postponed: This year’s edition of the Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF), the largest film festival in the country, will be rescheduled, the organizers of the event announced.
  • Andreas Elsner, Telekom Romania: As of Monday, all employees from the shops within the shopping centers (which were closed by military ordinance) were transferred to the Call Center
  • Antibiotics Iasi urgently resumes production of Paracetamol and Novocalmin. Both drugs were included in several treatment guides in the EU as a first option in starting treatment of fever or paid caused by COVID-19 infections, the drug maker informed in a press release.
  • Genesis Property A-class office buildings developer donates 50,000 euros to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases Matei Balș
  • AmCham: Education can and must continue through technology: AmCham Romania calls for the priority support of the education system, affected by the interruption imposed by the COVID-19 crisis, by focusing governmental efforts on measures to ensure continuity of the education process.