Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Romania reports 392 new coronavirus cases, total close to 14,500: Romania reported 392 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 14,499 cases on May 7, at 13:00, the authorities announced. Of the confirmed cases, 6,144 people were declared cured and discharged. At the same time, 876 Covid-19 patients died. By May 7, 226,613 tests were carried out at a national level.
- Raed Arafat: “Second wave is no joke. We don’t know what it will turn out to be”: The head of the Emergency Situations Department, Raed Arafat, warned that, most likely, Romania will also face a “second wave” of the pandemic. “We don’t know what it will be like,” says Arafat. The head of DSU believes that the authorities have taken the appropriate measures so far, but the relaxation must be done in compliance with the rules.
Political and regulatory
- Romania’s interior affairs minister: People can travel freely between localities after May 15: After May 15, when Romania will replace the state of emergency with the state of alert, people will be able to travel freely between localities and counties without having to carry a declaration outlining their route, interior affairs minister Marcel Vela said on Wednesday, April 6. “There are no limits because it would have been hard to set limits in these metropolitan areas; consequently, there will be no territorial-administrative limit for people to take into account,” Vela said in a video published on his Facebook page, quoted by News.ro. Vela, who was answering questions from the public, explained that people could go out for a picnic outside of their localities as long as they follow the social distancing rules. He said he was expecting citizens to show responsibility as they did so far. Asked about the reopening of Suceava, the largest coronavirus hotspot in the country, and currently under quarantine, Vela said the decision belonged to epidemiologists. They will evaluate the evolution of the diseases, the number of cases in Suceava, and the option of lifting the quarantine. Vela said that flights between Romania and other countries would resume depending on the situation in every country.
- Orban contradicts Marcel Vela who announced that from May 15 Romanians can freely travel outside of towns: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Thursday that no decision had been made on the possibility that after May 15, citizens could leave their hometown, although Interior Minister Marcel Vela announced that after May 15, citizens would they could leave the locality and even go on a “picnic”. “I communicate the decisions when they will be made. We are conducting an analysis. What the president said is certain. If there are other compelling reasons to leave the locality, they will be inclusive. We will let you know when we make a decision. I do not comment on what my colleagues say, I bring decisions to the attention of the people “, the Prime Minister said. Asked about the possibility for Romanians to go on a picnic after May 15, Ludovic Orban said that the reasons for leaving the town have not yet been established, and the decision will be made on the last day of the state of emergency.
- Collecting fines during state of emergency, repealing special pensions, law delaying mortgages, declared unconstitutional: The Constitutional Court has partially admitted the appeal submitted by the Ombudsman against the emergency ordinance 36/2020 that establishes fines for those who are not observing the restrictions imposed within the state of emergency prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so the fines collected for not respecting the lockdown are practically declared unconstitutional. However, the constitutional judges uphold that fines will be annulled only after they are challenged in court. CCR has also ruled on Wednesday that the draft law removing the special pensions , including the ones of magistrates and MPs, except for the army and police, is against the Constitution. At the same time, the constitutional judges have rejected the draft law initiated by PSD, ALDE and Pro Romania and adopted in Parliament last month that envisaged the delay of all mortgages for nine months due to the coronavirus crisis. Attorney General Gabriela Scutea warned on Wednesday that after the state of emergency ceases the judiciary will face a “huge” wave of complaints filed in court by people who were fined for violating military ordinances during the coronavirus lockdown. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban criticized once again CCR saying that, through the decision regarding special pensions, the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) showed that “it doesn’t want justice to exist in the retirement system.” The PM argued that the Constitutional Court judges are “in an obvious conflict of interest” on this matter, as “they themselves are beneficiaries of special pensions.” As for the unconstitutionality of fines Orban commented that the current CCR judges side with those braking the law. His statements continue along the line of past criticism related to the decision of ECHR in former DNA head Laura Kovesi’s case, by which he mainly targets the PSD (by reminding Romanians of PSD’s attacks on the justice system) and how the judges panel of CCR is formed and appointed (3 by the President, 3 by the Deputies Chamber and 3 by the President, with PSD managing to impose most new judges voted in 2019, due to misunderstandings between other parties), as CCR is the last resort when solving conflicts or contesting bills. CCR explained with reference to the ECHR ruling that it judges conflicts of constitutional nature and does not analyze fundamental rights and freedoms, therefore distinct from ECHR’s ruling regarding the violation of a right to a fair trial. Moreover the reply from CCR head Valer Dornean in response to a question on how the government can still fine people, was that it is up to the government to establish what to do next, in a constitutional manner. Most of the fines issued during the state of emergency (some EUR 120 million until now) were based on this ordinance and could thus be challenged in court and canceled. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced on Thursday that the fines for non-compliance with military ordinances have returned to the level prior to the Emergency Ordinance that increased their value, i.e. previous to the GEO declared unconstitutional by CCR which raised fines to between RON 2,000 and RON 20,000. The initial value of the fines was between RON 100 and RON 5,000. Orban added that the government will make an analysis to see if a bill is required for a possible amnesty of those who were fined on the basis of the GEO declared unconstitutional by the CCR.
- Ombudsperson notifies CCR regarding emergency ordinance regulating state of alert: The Ombudsperson notified the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) with the exception of unconstitutionality in respect to the Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG) regarding the National System of Emergency Situations Management. According to the release, the Ombudsman claims that the delegation of the legislative powers to administrative authorities with the purpose of restricting the exercise of some fundamental rights or freedoms breaches the principle of separation of powers, as well as the constitutional provisions according to which Parliament is the sole legislative authority.
- Orban: Government’s most important objective – strongly support the economy: The most important objective of the Government is, after the COVID-19 epidemic peak is overcome, to strongly support the economy so that it returns as fast as possible to the level prior to the start of the pandemic, stated on Thursday Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, in southern Craiova. Orban conducted a visit to the Ford Craiova Plant.
- Iohannis: EU, going through time of crisis, will not abandon strategic objectives, closest partners: Although the European Union is going through a time of crisis, it will not abandon its strategic objectives and closest partners, President Kalus Iohannis said on Wednesday at the summit of leaders of EU member states with representatives of the Western Balkans, which took place in video conferencing system, informs a press release of the Presidential Administration.
- USR asks PSD and PNL to endorse taxation of special pensions: The Save Romania Union (USR) is asking the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL) to endorse the USR draft on taxing the special pensions exceeding a certain level.
- Education Ministry allowing Romanian universities access to Integrated Education Information System: The Ministry of Education and Research has allowed Romanian universities access to Romania’s Integrated Education Information System (SIIIR) to facilitate the online admission to higher education establishments, according to a press statement released by the ministry.
- Chamber invites health minister to Gov’t Question Time: Health Minister Nelu Tataru will be invited to a Government Question Time on Monday to be held as part of a plenary meeting of the Chamber of Deputies.
- Deputies’ Chamber: PM Orban – invited to plenary meeting to present economic relaunch measures: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban will be invited on 18 May to the plenary meeting of the Deputies’ Chamber, to “the Prime Minister’s Question Time,” in order to present the economic relaunch measures, the Standing Bureau decided on Wednesday.
Impact on the economy
- PM Orban on European Commission’s budget deficit estimate: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Wednesday night that according to the Government’s estimate, this year the budget deficit will be 6.7 pct of GDP and added that the time will tell whether this estimate was a correct one. He thus answered a question about the fact that the European Commission’s forecasts indicate a budget deficit of up to 9.2 pct% of GDP this year for Romania, higher than 6.7 pct of GDP announced by Finance Minister Florin Citu. On the other hand, ALDE head Vosganian said that EC’s forecast for Romania in 2020 is exceedingly alarming.
- Romanian banks sign first loans under state program for supporting SMEs: The banks enrolled under the Romanian Government’s IMM Invest program, aimed at helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs), accepted the first loan applications on May 5, Ziarul Financiar reported.
- SocGen’s Romanian subsidiary posts lower profit amid Covid-19 provision: BRD-SocGen, the third-biggest bank in Romania by assets, reported a group level (consolidated) net profit of RON 241 million (EUR 50 mln) in the first quarter of the year (Q1), down 20% compared to the same period of 2019.
- Diverta reopens all street stores, but with new procedures: Diverta, the largest integrated retailer in the field of books, stationery and toys, announced that Diverta Lipscani stores (Bucharest), Diverta in Unirii Square Cluj, Diverta in Sibiu Big Square and Diverta in Câmpina resumes thier activity.
- Food price hiked by 6.4% compared to last year, we pay 17% more for meat: In the first 16 weeks of 2020, prices in large chain stores have increased by an average of 4.7%, while prices for food increased by 6.4% compared to the same period of 2019. Romanians are mainly going to convenience stores, which stole from the market share of hypermarkets, reads an analysis by a market research company.
- Scandia assures that there is no COVID-19 in its cans, after four employees were confirmed with the virus: A large canned meat producer in Romania, Scandia Food, assures consumers that its products do not contain COVID-19, after several employees of the factory from Sibiu tested positive with the new coronavirus, according to the information provided on Thursday by AGERPRES by the company and the Sibiu Public Health Directorate (DSP).
- Kaufland opened its 130th store: Kaufland Romania, the largest player on the food retail market in terms of turnover, inaugurated today its 14th store in Bucharest and reaches a network of 130 hypermarkets in Romania.