Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Alarming record of new COVID-19 cases in Romania: 555 in just one day: 555 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Romania today, July 8 since yesterday, the highest number registered in Romania since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 13,147 tests have been done. The negative record in the past 14 hours has exceeded the one on April 11 when 523 cases were reported. It was the only time when Romania recorded more than 500 new cases on a daily basis. Overall, there are 30,175 infected persons on Romania’s territory. Among them, 11,284 were discharged from hospital: 20,799 patients recovered and 1,485 were asymptomatic and were released from hospitals 10 days after they had tested positive. Until today, 1,817 infected persons died (18 deaths in the last 24 hours). To date, 796,484 tests have been processed at national level.
Political and regulatory
- HealthMin says 550 COVID-19 patients request discharge days after quarantine by decree ruled unconstitutional: Health Minister Nelu Tataru said on Wednesday in Constanta that in the first two or three days after the decision of the Constitutional Court ruling unconstitutional quarantine by decree of a minister about 550 Covid-19 patients nationwide filed for discharge from hospitals, with their number declining in recent days. He added that specific legislation is needed for the good management of hospitalisation or isolation of patients.
- President Iohannis to pay visit to Cantacuzino Institute: President Klaus Iohannis will pay a visit to the Cantacuzino Institute on Wednesday, according to the Presidential Administration. The visit of the head of state to the Institute will take place at 17,00hrs.
- Draft law regarding establishment of September 27 as date of local elections – adopted: Senators adopted on Tuesday the legislative draft regarding the establishment of the date of the local elections as September 27. The Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP) announced today that the electoral period for this year’s local elections will begin no later than July 29, and that the Central Electoral Bureau will be set up on August 2, if Parliament sets the date for the local election on September 27.
- Firea: I will no longer run for Bucharest’s mayoralty if center-left flank has better candidate: Bucharest’s Mayor General Gabriela Firea said that she would no longer candidate for the Bucharest City Hall’s mayoralty if there was a better candidate than her on the center-left flank, but she mentioned that, from all the studies so far, she and President Klaus Iohannis are the first Romanians trust the most.
- Ciolacu on Gov’t’s quarantine bill: Legislative zombie; we invite civil society to Parliament to repair PNL chaos: The interim president of Social Democratic Party (PSD), Marcel Ciolacu, said on Wednesday that the bill of the Orban Government on quarantine and isolation is “another legislative zombie” and that he will invite the civil society to Parliament to repair “the National Liberal Party (PNL) chaos”. He added that there is no clarity in the draft law on the duration of deprivation of freedom, and “scientific data” cannot be a legally valid criterion when it comes to deprivation of freedom, because it does not provide any predictability. Ciolacu said the bill offers “discretionary powers” to the health minister “to order the worst measures of deprivation of freedom when there is an imminent risk, at the mere proposal of the National Institute of Public Health, which is subordinate to it.” Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) President Calin Popescu Tariceanu says that Parliament will have to amend several articles of the draft law approved by the Government on the quarantine and isolation of persons, which leaves “a large margin of maneuver” to the authorities in “defining and identifying the unusual or unexpectedly identified event”, and expresses his hope for a “serious debate” in Parliament and not for an “underground arrangement” that would make the law pass like “goose through water”.
- Romanian Govt. to subsidize rents in the shopping malls closed during pandemic: Retailers in Romania will be able to access funds worth RON 160 million (EUR 33 mln) to cover their rent costs for the period when their activity was affected due to the state of emergency and state of alert. An inter-ministry commission coordinated by the Economy Ministry met again on Tuesday, July 7, to finalize the regulation based on which the financial support will be given, Economica.net reported. The ministry’s representatives also advised the mall owners and retailers to reach an agreement so that the funds received from the state can help both.
- Romania’s reformist party USR proposes container deposit scheme for stimulating recycling: Romanian reformist party Save Romania Union (USR) proposes a container deposit scheme (a small extra deposit on top of the price of the bottled or canned goods) as a solution for increasing the collection rate for packaging materials. USR proposes a flat deposit of RON 0.5 or RON 1 irrespective of the type of container subject to the law, for simple implementation, Mediafax reported.
- Retirees’ association in Romania press for 40% pension hike: Several Romanian retirees’ federations held a press conference on July 7, on the topic of possible non-compliance with the provisions of the law on increasing the pensions by 40% as of September. Finance minister Florin Citu made clear a 10% hike is all the Government can afford. LabMin Violeta Alexandru said she was surprised by Tuesday’s statements by leaders of pensioners’ associations, who announced street protests in September and lawsuits if pensions were not increased by 40%, voicing regret that a channel could not be found for dialogue. She reiterated that both the prime minister and the minister of finance have made it clear that, when there is a report on the government revenues, the categories involved will be informed and invited for debate, in this case the pensioners.
- FinMin Citu: Massive investment contribution to Q1 economic growth confirmed by statistics authority: The National Institute of Statistics (INS) revised upwards from 0.9 to 2 percent the contribution of investments to Romania’s economic growth in Q1, Finance Minister Florin Citu wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. According to him, investments contributed a record high 74 percent to the 2.7 percent YoY advance of the economy in Q1 2020.
- FinMin Citu: I stick to opinion EC’s estimate is too pessimistic: The European Commission (EC)’s estimate of Romania’s economic decline of 6% in 2020 is too pessimistic if we look at what is happening in Romania today, Minister of Public Finance Florin Citu on Wednesday told a specialized conference, adding that he expects an improvement in the estimate. He admitted that the SME Invest program did not start very well and was a huge volume for the financial-banking system all of a sudden, which made it necessary to adjust the systems. Changes have been made in terms of guarantees, and now it has reached 11,000 companies that have taken loans and a volume of financing of 10 billion lei. The finance minister said that all the measures taken at the level of the ministry he leads for the private sector amounted, until June 30, at 15 billion lei, which remained with the companies.
- Constitutional Court upholds challenge to competences of Section for magistrates’ investigation and its chief prosecutor: The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) upheld on Tuesday by a majority vote a constitutional challenge regarding the provisions of Law No. 304/2004 on judicial organization that concern the competences of the Section for the Investigation of Criminal Offences in the Judiciary (SIIJ), as well as of the section’s chief prosecutor, CCR said in a release.
- PMP floor leader: PMP not voting motion against Development Minister, yet requests PNDL revision: The lawmakers of the People’s Movement Party (PMP) will not vote for the simple motion tabled by the Social Democrats against Development Minister Ion Stefan, terming it “a colossal example of hypocrisy,” PMP floor leader Marius Pacan told the Chamber of Deputies plenum on Tuesday.
- Environment Minister announces 3.17 ml euro project to expand National Air Quality Monitoring Network: As many as 60 new monitoring stations will add to the National Air Quality Monitoring Network in an investment worth 3.17 million euros, Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests Costel Alexe told a press conference on Tuesday. The official also announced that the tender for the development of a network of 50 air quality measuring sensors will also be launched this week. Alexe specified that 30 of the stations that will add to the National Air Quality Monitoring Network will be analyzer stations that will strictly measure particulate matter PM10 and PM 2.5 and will provide information on the real-time concentrations for each separate hour, while the other 30 stations will be sampling ones. He also mentioned that 65 percent of the new stations will be installed in Bucharest. New air quality monitoring stations will also be installed in 30 other cities across the country, such as Brasov, Iasi, Cluj-Napoca, Craiova, Curtea de Arges, Onesti, Miercurea Ciuc, Slatina, Campina, Bacau, Focsani, Tulcea, and Alba Iulia.
- Covid-19 crisis raises the deficit of the Health Fund to 3.63 billion lei in the first five months, at least double compared to last year: the Single National Fund for Social Health Insurance (FNUASS), which is largely financed by the healthcare system, had a deficit of 3.63 billion lei in the first five months of the year, at least double compared to the same period of 2019, according to an analysis drawn by Economica.net based on the Fund’s executions. From the beginning of the health crisis generated by COVID-10 until September 30, 2020, the FNUASS budget supports the medical services and medicines necessary to treat all persons on Romanian territory, diagnosed with COVID-19 disease, and the complications of this disease, whether they are insured, uninsured in the social healthcare insurance system, or come from other states.
- Austria issues travel warnings for Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova: Austria issues travel warnings for Romania, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova, the Vienna government announced on Wednesday, citing a worsening of the COVID-19 situation in these countries, reports Reuters quoted by Agerpres. Anyone arriving from the three states must be quarantined for two weeks or to make proof to have tested negative (for COVID-19), Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg stated at a press conference.
- Health minister: We might have outbreaks on the seaside: Romanian Health Minister Nelu Tătaru has stressed again on the importance of observing the social distancing and hygiene rules on the seaside, warning that new outbreaks could emerge in these tourist spots that expect overcrowding in the upcoming three months. The minister went on a visit to the Emergency Hospital and to the ROL 2 Military Hospitla in Constanta on Wednesday, saying that the hospitals are ready to cope with the infections, but “we must not indulge in the hospital only”.
- MFP wants a system to motivate shareholders to capitalize their companies: The Ministry of Public Finance wants to create a system to motivate shareholders to capitalize their companies, the measure will be presented at the next government meeting, minister Florin Cîţu said on Wednesday in a specialized conference, Agerpres reported.
Impact on the economy
- Romania’s statistics office confirms 2.4% GDP growth for Q1: Romania’s statistics office revised marginally (-0.1%) the nominal value of the GDP for the first quarter of the year (Q1) but maintained the estimated real annual growth rate at 2.4%. It was the slowest growth rate in nearly six years, nonetheless pretty robust compared to the readings expected for the coming quarters.
- Job applications sent through eJobs platform in Romania, up 35% year-on-year in June: More than 1.2 million job applications were sent in June on the online recruitment platforms eJobs, 35% above the level reached in the same period last year. The areas predominantly envisaged by the candidates were: retail, services, call center / BPO, IT / telecom and banks / financial services. In this context, compared to previous months, there is a decrease in interest in areas such as medicine or pharma, but also a considerable return of those seeking a job in tourism and HoReCa.
- KFC, Pizza Hut franchise owner in Romania opens new restaurant: Sphera Franchise Group, the owner of the KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell franchises in Romania, decided to open another restaurant under the KFC label in Baia Mare, despite the adverse conditions and uncertain outlook. From a five-fold contraction of its sales in the first stage of the coronavirus outbreak, the sales of SFG stabilized in June at 35% of the sales in the same month last year.
- Prices of apartments in Romania, down 4.2% in three months: The average prices of apartments in Romania decreased in June for the third month in a row. Still, the monthly decline eased to 1.1% from 1.4% in May and 1.7% in April. The cumulative decline in the three months thus reached 4.2%, according to the data compiled by local property marketplace Imobiliare.ro based on the asking prices.
- Customers, car repair shops ask bankruptcy of Romanian insurer Euroins: The AutoCar group of car repair shops and several other independent car service companies demanded the bankruptcy of Romanian insurer Euroins on Tuesday, for RON 1.5 million (EUR 0.3 mln) overdue debt.
- Romania raises USD 3.3 bln with US dollar-denominated Eurobonds: Romania’s Finance Ministry drew USD 3.3 billion from the international markets on Tuesday, July 7, selling Eurobonds denominated in US dollars with maturities of 10 and 30 years. The investors placed orders totaling USD 7.3 billion.
- Romanian tech firms develop biometric technology to prevent students from cheating in online exams: Tremend, one of the most dynamic Romanian tech companies, has launched a platform that allows examination centers, assessment providers, and universities to supervise students taking remote exams and prevent cheating. The solution, called observed, leverages AI-enabled typing biometrics, a proprietary technology of Romanian startup TypingDNA, a behavioral-biometrics SaaS company offering innovative typing-based authentication. The global market of proctoring and online exams has skyrocketed in recent months, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the education institutions to close their doors for students.
- Petrom’s fuel sales fell 17% in the second quarter in the context of the pandemic. Expectations were much worse: Petrom, the leader of the Romanian fuel distribution market, announced total sales of refined products of 1.15 million tons, in the second quarter of the year, a period of time in which Romania was entirely under the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Fuel sales in the second quarter are thus 17% lower in terms of volume than in the same period last year (1.39 million tonnes). They are also 4% lower than in the first quarter of the year (1.2 million tonnes), a period that was less affected by the effects of the pandemic.