Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Romania reports just over 3000 cases of COVID-19 at fewer tests carried out on Sunday: 3,240 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Romania in the past 24 hours, out of just 11,445 conducted tests (28,3% infection rate). 130 Romanians infected with the novel coronavirus have died in the past 24 hours, while 1,076 patients are in intensive care. A 14-day incidence rate of above 3 per thousand inhabitants is registered in Dolj (3.86), Prahova (3.77), Constanta (3.67), Maramures (3.59), Ilfov (3.48), Bistrita-Nasaud (3.46), Covasna (3.36), Dambovita (3.2), and Satu Mare (3.03). Above 4 per thousand inhabitants is registered in: Arad (4.99), Brasov (4.56), Mures (4.39). Above 5 is registered in: Bihor (5.52), Alba (5.47), and Bucharest (5.14). And above 6 per thousand is registered in the counties of Sibiu (6.6), Salaj (6.59), Cluj (6.34), and Timis (6.25).  Only two counties are still in the green scenario (with an incidence rate below 1.5 per thousand inhabitants) – Olt and Vrancea. Over the weekend, there have been 9,937 new cases on Saturday (at 36,202 tests; which translates to a percentage of 27.4% positive tests) and 6,752 new tests on Sunday (at 21,552 tests; 31.3% positive tests). Most new cases over the last 72 hours were registered in: Bucharest (3,073; 13% of the total), Prahova (1,886; 8% of the total), Sibiu (1,160; 5% of the total), Constanta (1,073; 5%), Timis (1,010; 4%); Cluj (998; 4%); Brasov (978; 4%), Bihor (884; 4%), Ilfov (724; 3%), Iasi (669; 3%), Mures (664; 3%), Arad (640; 3%), Dolj (554; 2%), Arges (515; 2%), Dambovita (509; 2%), Alba (450; 2%), Bacau (432; 2%), Neamt (431; 2%) and Calarasi (410; 2%). (*percentages are rounded up
  • Romania’s tennis ace Simona Halep recovers from COVID-19: Romania’s tennis star Simona Halep, currently second in the WTA singles ranking, has recovered from COVID-19. She made the announcement on Twitter. “100% recovered,” reads Halep’s post.
  • US Ambassador in Bucharest tests negative for coronavirus: The U.S. Embassy in Romania announced that Ambassador Adrian Zuckerman has tested negative for coronavirus, after having met with Minister of Transportation Lucian Bode who tested positive for corona virus.
  • Pfizer claims over 90% effectiveness for its vaccine: Pfizer said Monday that its experimental vaccine is over 90% effective in preventing Covid-19, according to preliminary data from a large-scale study.

Political and regulatory

 

  • Romania purchases 40,000 rapid Covid-19 tests: Romania purchased 40,000 rapid antigen tests which will be distributed to emergency units in the country, state secretary Raed Arafat, the head of the Emergency Situations Department (DSU), explained in an interview with television station Antena 3, quoted by G4media. The tests will be used for patients displaying symptoms, Arafat explained. He also said the country plans to purchase another 3 million rapid antigen tests to “speed up the detection of people infected with Covid-19 and the quarantine and isolation processes”. The country’s testing capacity currently stands at 40,000 – 50,000 tests per day, but it doesn’t reach the maximum, and less than 40,000 daily tests are carried out. He also said he expected the number of infections to increase until the effect of the restrictions is visible. Meanwhile, private healthcare medical services provider, MedLife warned that rapid antigen testing is not a reliable tool for diagnosing the SARS COV 2 infection. Health Minister Nelu Tataru also said on Friday in Iasi that moving forward he expects an increase in the number of infections with the novel coronavirus in Romania followed by a dip in about two to three weeks’ time. “The developments we have been witnessing since early September point to a rise. That rise is accompanied by community spread. Any economic activity, any social activity, public transport, any other event meant an increase in spread. Capping such activities make us get a decrease in the number of cases,” said Tataru.
  • Romanian president and PM congratulate new US president: Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, and prime minister Ludovic Orban congratulated the newly elected president of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the elected Vice President, Kamala Harris. “Congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden on his victory. I look forward to further consolidating our solid & dynamic #StrategicPartnership in all its dimensions. Romania will continue to work to strengthen the security, prosperity & resilience of our transatlantic community,” Iohannis wrote on Twitter. PM Ludovic Orban said that the Romanian Government is ready to work closely with the new US administration to strengthen the bilateral Strategic Partnership and realize the full potential of the transatlantic relationship.
  • Former US ambassador to Romania, part of Joe Biden’s transition team: Mark Gitenstein, a former ambassador of the United States to Romania between 2009 and 2012, is part of the advisory board of the Biden-Harris transition team, according to a September announcement quoted by Profit.ro. The co-chairs, advisory board, and senior leadership of the Biden-Harris transition team will provide counsel on topics such as the public health crisis or the recession.
  • Iohannis: Recent measures prevent a more serious lockdown later on. Patients in serious condition might by transferred abroad: President Klaus Iohannis has said during a visit to Maramures county on Friday that the firm measures taken by the authorities recently will help us prevent a more serious phase of lockdown after elections. He said that the first results of the restrictions to be enforced as of Monday will be seen in 2-3 weeks. The head of state also announced that Romania had initiated contacts with other states for a potential transfer of COVID-19 patients in serious conditions abroad, yet voicing hope it will not be the case.
  • Hospital representative on the 3 main sources of infection with COVID-19 in Romania: The main sources of infection with the novel coronavirus in Romania are the public transportation, parties, particularly those thrown by the teenagers, and factories that do not observe the protection measures, says the manager of Victor Babes Hospital in Timisoara, doctor Cristian Oancea. PM Orban also said on Sunday evening, while commenting on the new restrictions, that teenagers are virus spreaders, as they “don’t get infected in schools, but in the places where they cannot be under adult supervision”. Asked about movement banning between 23 and 5, the PM said that this was planned to avoid the so-called “parties” during the night. The Prime Minister pointed out that school re-opening depended on the pandemic evolution.
  • PM Orban: Closure of markets in closed spaces – temporary: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Monday that the closure of markets in closed spaces was decided because in these places the degree of compliance with health protection measures was the lowest, but stressed that the measure is temporary and that solutions are being sought to enable markets to continue to function, according to AGERPRES. He argued that compliance was much higher in supermarkets. Orban said he had spoken to more than 100 mayors of municipalities and cities and asked each prefect to hold meetings with mayors on Sunday with representatives of local authorities involved in preparing measures to allow markets to continue to function. Previously, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Adrian Oros, also assured in a Facebook post that all agricultural producers of Romanian products will continue to have access to markets. The reactions come following harsh criticism from the Alliance for Agriculture, the Confederation of Farmers who accused bias towards supermarkets and also from politicians. Merchants in Bucharest’s Crângași Market have protested on Monday morning because the market will be closed, following decisions taken by the Government to limit the spread of the Covid epidemic. Spontaneous protests also took place in Timisoara, in Piatra Neamț and in Pitești.
  • FinMin Citu: Budget revision to be made transparent this week: The budget revision will be made transparent this week, and it will be adopted next week, the objective being to limit the increase in the budget deficit this year, Public Finance Minister Florin Citu said on Monday, according to AGERPRES. The finance minister was asked if the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture have requested or will receive more money, and he mentioned that all “requests that are substantiated will be considered and will have funding”. Finance Minister Florin Citu also said on Monday that he rules out an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  In the press conference there was also reference to a new state aid scheme for the HoReCa sector presented on Sunday evening by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban. PNL President Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced on Monday that by the end of this week, the state aid scheme for the hospitality industry will most likely be finalized and approved, so that it can be sent to the European Commission next week. The entire HoReCa industry in Romania last year had revenues estimated at 5 billion euros, and this year will lose about 3 billion euros, of which 1 billion are only the losses of hotel owners, calculated the representatives of the Alliance for Tourism (APT). They say the state aid promised by the state reaches 130 million euros, insufficient to compensate for losses 20 times larger.
  • PM Orban: Elections are not a caprice; we can no longer tolerate an expired Parliament: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Sunday evening said that elections are about democracy and not a “caprice,” and the December 6 elections are needed because the existence of an expired Parliament can no longer be tolerated,” since such Parliament no longer has legitimacy, according to AGERPRES.
  • Bucharest law enforcement issues fines of 7,000 lei to public protesters for violations of COVID-19 measures: On Sunday, the Bucharest Gendarmerie issued fines of 7,000 lei to protesters in Victoriei Square for violation of measures to prevent and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The protesters have voicing with both the compulsoriness of mask wearing and against the new restrictions imposed by the Government.
  • Pro Romania – ALDE merge into one party: The delegates to the Pro Romania – the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Congress voted by a wide majority the merger of the two political formations, with Victor Ponta being designated as the new party’s candidate for the prime minister office. Ponta also presented the Pro Romania’s programme.
  • PMP’s Tomac: Budget must be tailored on today’s realities: People’s Movement Party Chairman, Eugen Tomac says it is essential to have money for all pensioners and also to find instruments to save jobs in this period, and the budget must be built according to today’s realities. “Anyone who comes today and tells Romanians that they will increase their pensions, that they will increase their salaries, is shamelessly lying. Our obligation is to have a budget that allows us to overcome with maximum responsibility this crisis that is superimposed on this public health crisis,” the PMP Chairman also said.
  • ForMin Aurescu to pay official visit to The Hague on Monday: Foreign Affairs Minister Bogdan Aurescu will pay an official visit to The Hague, The Kingdom of the Netherlands, upon the invitation of his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok, the Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) announced on Sunday. In the area of European affairs, Minister Aurescu will tackle topical files such as the management of the COVID-19 pandemic effects, the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and the Recovery Plan, the future EU-UK partnership agreement, Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area, as well as climate change.
  • DefMin Nicolae Ciuca: F-16 program remains essential for Romanian Army: The F-16 program remains an essential one for the Romanian army, which is assumed by the Romanian Government, in partnership with the Portuguese Government and the United States Government, the Minister of National Defense, Nicolae Ciuca, declared on Saturday after meeting with his Portuguese counterpart, Joao Titterington Gomes Cravinho, on an official visit to Romania. Minister of National Defense Nicolae Ciuca told a press conference held alongside Portuguese counterpart Joao Titterington Gomes Cravinho on an official visit to Romania that he is considering the possibility of purchasing “in the upcoming period” another squadron of aircraft that must be interoperable with those already in the Army’s endowment.

Impact on the economy

  • Orange takes over Deutsche Telekom’s fixed operations in Romania: French group Orange, the telecom market leader in Romania, will take over Deutsche Telekom’s fixed operations in the country. The transaction targets a 54% stake in Telekom Romania Communications and Deutsche Telekom’s fixed-mobile convergent subscriber base in Romania, Orange announced. According to the official press release, the French group will pay EUR 268 million to Deutsche Telekom on a debt-free, cash-free basis and subject to customary adjustments at the closing of the transaction. Telekom Romania Communications and the convergent customer base were valued at little under EUR 500 million. The Romanian state holds the remaining 46% stake in Telekom Romania Communications, which is the former state telecom company Romtelecom. Deutsche Telekom will keep ownership of Telekom Romania Mobile Communications through its Greek subsidiary OTE.
  • Govt. approves EUR 380 mln restructuring strategy at flag carrier Tarom: Romania’s Government approved the 2021-2022 restructuring plan of the state airline Tarom and state aid for this purpose, Profit.ro reported. The restructuring plan’s cost is EUR 380 million, half of which should come from the state aid. Tarom plans to renew its fleet, optimize the routes operated, close some agencies, restructure its staff, optimize the technical department functioning, optimize fuel and handling costs. One of the plan’s key elements is slashing the workforce by one third and the management positions by 50%. This alone will result in permanent savings of EUR 8.5 mln per year.
  • State revenues from energy taxation drop dramatically, another effect of the pandemic: At nine months, the Ministry of Finance data show significant decreases in revenues from taxes specific to the energy sector – excise money is 15% less, and from oil royalties and the additional tax on natural gas the revenues are over 25% lower than in the first three quarters of 2019.
  • Bolt expands to eastern Romania city: Bolt announced on Friday, November 6, that it launched its ride-hailing service in Iasi, in eastern Romania. Iasi thus became the fifth city in Romania where this service is available, after Bucharest, Constanta, Timisoara, and Cluj-Napoca.
  • EC approves EUR 150 mln scheme for green district heating projects in RO: The European Commission (EC) announced on November 6 that it approved an aid scheme worth EUR 150 million submitted by Romania to support investments in district heating systems based on renewable energy sources. Romania’s district heating systems generate heat mainly by burning gas or coal. The aid measure aims to support investments in thermal energy production plants with up to 60 MW of thermal equivalent, facilitating the transition from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas) to the exclusive use of renewable energy sources such as biogas, biomass, and geothermal energy.
  • OTP Bank Romania halves 9M profit on COVID-19 provisioning: OTP Bank Romania, the local subsidiary of Hungarian group OTP, reported a consolidated net profit of RON 39 million (EUR 8 mln) in the first nine months of the year, roughly half of the RON 79 mln posted in the same period last year. The bank’s profitability dropped due to the higher risk metrics in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • New Moldovan airline sets up base in Iasi: HiSky, an airline registered in the Republic of Moldova, brought its first Airbus A320 aircraft on November 6 at the Iasi International Airport in Eastern Romania, where it has opened a new base. Iasi has become the company’s hub, which will help the region’s inhabitants travel more, said the director of HiSky, Iulian Scorpan, a former pilot of Air Moldova, quoted by Economica.net.
  • RO agri group Agricover to launch EUR 40 mln bonds: Romanian agribusiness group Agricover Holding, controlled by Iranian businessman Jabbar Kanani, one of the leading players in the local agricultural market, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) among its shareholders, is preparing to launch a EUR 40 million bond issue on the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB), Profit.ro reported.  The bonds will have a face value of EUR 50,000 and a maturity of up to 7 years.
  • Bluehouse Capital sells its third boutique office building in Bucharest: Georgian-Jewish businessman Shalom Shai (Shimshilashvili), founder of the Dona group, active in real estate development and construction areas in Israel and Georgia, bought Astoria Business Center boutique office building in the center of Bucharest from the Greek-owned company Bluehouse Capital for EUR 9 million, Profit.ro reported.
  • Govt. targets households’ savings with new bond issues: Romania’s Government launched, on November 9, new bond issues in local currency and euro for individual investors under the Fidelis 2020-2021 program, Economica.net reported. The new bonds can be purchased until November 27 and will later be listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, where individual investors can sell them to investment and pension funds.
  • Romania records increase in trade balance deficit of 998.5M euros, Jan-Sept: Romania’s trade balance deficit (FOB/CIF) increased by 998.5 million euros to 13.058 billion euros, in the first nine months of this year, compared with the same period in 2019, shows data released by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on Monday, according to AGERPRES.
  • Bucharest office market continues to develop, with a slight return in demand in the Q3: The office market in Bucharest continues to grow, in the first nine months of the year being delivered new spaces with a total area of ​​124,000 square meters, while developers have in various phases of construction buildings with a cumulative area of ​​388,000 square meters, according to real estate consulting company Cushman & Wakefield Echinox.
  • The first online rental of a warehouse in Romania: The first logistics unit in the logistics park developed by Globalworth and Global Vision in Chitila was completed and delivered in September 2020. The company welcomes its newest tenant, cosmetics, food supplements and parapharmaceuticals company Green Net, which leased ​​2,500 sq m. Chitila Logistics Hub will have, at the end of the entire project, a total leasable area of ​​over 77,000 square meters. The phases II and III will be delivered at the end of 2021.
  • NEPI Rockcastle adjusts schedule for stores in shopping malls: Following latest information provided by the authorities on the new measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 virus, NEPI Rockcastle has announced the adjustment of the operating schedule of stores in all 20 NEPI Rockcastle malls, between 10:00 – 21:00.
  • Online stores estimate an average 40% increase in Black Friday sales – analysis: Online stores had average transaction increases of 50% during October compared to the same period last year, and in the perspective of Black Friday 2020 estimates show a sales jump of 35-40% compared to the 2019 shopping event, reveals the data published on Monday by the MerchantPro platform. The 10th edition of Black Friday at eMag comes with over 4 million products. The company estimates that in this anniversary edition of Black Friday customers will place total orders worth 585 million lei, 17% more than last year.