Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • Total number of confirmed cases nears 21,000: The total number of coronavirus cases confirmed by tests in Romania reached 20,945 on Wednesday, June 10, according to the daily official report released at 13:00. A total of 196 people tested positive for the new coronavirus (COVID-19) in the last 24 hours (up from 145 reported the day before). The number of confirmed patients who have recovered from COVID-19 also increased to 15,103 (up from 14,910 reported on June 9). Meanwhile, the death toll has risen to 1,360. At this time, 150 patients are treated in intensive care units. More than 520,500 tests were processed nationwide by June 10.
  • Biggest courier firm in Romania reports 24 employees infected with COVID-19: Fan Courier, the biggest courier company in Romania, announced that 24 employees at its logistics center in Stefanesti, near Bucharest, have tested positive for COVID-19. However, the company says that this does not affect its operations and that there is no risk of infection for other employees or for clients who receive parcel deliveries.
  • Bucharest City Hall starts antibody testing campaign: The antibody testing campaign of the Bucharest City Hall, which is meant to determine how the new coronavirus has spread in the Romanian capital, will start on Wednesday, June 10. The first 500 Bucharest residents will be tested today, Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea announced on Facebook. So far, 2,000 people enrolled in the program.

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • Romania might reopen shopping malls, private schools after June 15: President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday that the state of alert should be extended, with fewer restrictions, and called on parliamentarians to proceed in this sense. “We believe that it is necessary to extend the state of alert (…) it is not possible to continue without having this tool called the state of alert,” Iohannis said. Shopping malls in Romania can reopen after June 15, President Klaus Iohannis announced on Tuesday, June 9, after a meeting with prime minister Ludovic Orban and other Government members. However, the restaurants and playgrounds inside shopping malls will not reopen. At the same time, private kindergartens and schools can reopen. Private outdoor events with a maximum of 50 participants and private indoor events with at most 20 participants will also be allowed. Gyms and outdoor pools can reopen while implementing the social distancing norms. He explained that some measures, such as wearing a mask in indoor venues, social distancing, avoiding crowds, will remain in place. “Things will be more relaxed in relation to the states where the number of new cases in the past 14 days is below 5 cases per 1 million residents. For the time being, countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden do not fit this criterion. We will follow the EU communication closely and react immediately where things change for the better,” the president said.
  • Romania’s Social Democrats oppose Govt.’s plans to extend state of alert: Romania’s biggest party by the number of MPs, the Social Democrat Party (PSD), will vote against extending the state of alert if the Government issues an ordinance in this regard, PSD spokesperson Lucian Romascanu announced. His statements came in response to president Klaus Iohannis arguing in favor of such a decision, on June 9. PSD would thus join its two smaller allies, Pro Romania and ALDE, which also declared themselves against prolonging the state of alert that ends on June 15. The Social Democratic Party (PSD) asked the Government and President Klaus Iohannis to first prove to Romanians that the state of alert is not only “a cover for conducting party business” and present to Parliament the epidemiological studies that attest without a doubt the necessity of prolonging the state of alert.  The Social Democratic Party (PSD) claimed that extending the state of alert “deals the death blow to thousands of companies,” and the number of unemployed will surge. A similar opinion was expressed by Chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Calin Popescu-Tariceanu who said that there is no medical justification for extending the state of alert in Romania, but rather “an electoral and business vested interest”. Meanwhile, USR said it has not decided yet on whether it would support the extension of the state of alert in Parliament. USR President Dan Barna said on Tuesday that the decision to extend or not the state of alert “depends very much on the data that the Government will present in support of a possible request.”
  • StateSec Arafat – Speaker Ciolacu meeting: Secretary of State with the Interior Ministry (MAI) Raed Arafat arrived to Parliament on Wednesday to meet Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Marcel Ciolacu. According to some sources, Arafat wants to convince the Deputies’ Chamber Speaker of the necessity to extend the state of alert. The meeting ended without clear conclusions. Parliamentary sources told HotNews.ro that PSD insists on drafting a law regulating possible restrictions after the end of the alert state. On the other hand, Raed Arafat promised that the Government will come up with some clear and punctual proposals to plead in favor of extending the state of alert. Social Democrats fear that the Orban Government could use their refusal to extend the state of alert as a political weapon, i.e. announcing higher infection figures and blaming the Parliament. According to the quoted sources, some common points were agreed at the meeting with Arafat:
    •      the reopening of hospitals because chronically ill patients must have access to treatment
    •      stopping direct purchases made by the Government
    •      those coming from areas with epidemiological risk would stay in isolation for 14 days and be tested at the end of this period
    •      the measures of wearing a mask in closed spaces and social distancing must be maintained
  • Romania bracing for second coronavirus wave: Head of the Emergency Situations Department (DSU) Raed Arafat said on Tuesday evening that preparations are being made at the level of the European Civil Protection for a possible second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but no one can estimate whether it will be bigger or smaller than it is today. He said that full relaxation is not advisable, and that if the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic occurs, certain measures will have to be taken and adapted. Arafat also said that Romania is starting to fill its stocks of medical equipment. The DSU head believes that “a form” of state of alert is still needed in Romania, and he hopes that the political players will agree on this matter.
  • Defense Ministry team back home on Wednesday from medical support mission to Alabama: The Defense Ministry’s specialized medical team that has been on a two-week mission to the state of Alabama, providing critical COVID-19 support to the authorities, will return to the country on Wednesday, the Ministry of National Defense said.
  • IntMin Vela, US ambassador Zuckerman discuss pandemic, crime combat, Visa Waiver Program: Minister of the Interior Marcel Vela and US ambassador in Bucharest Adrian Zuckerman met on Tuesday to discuss, among others, the novel coronavirus pandemic, the fight against crime, the two states’ strategic partnership and the Visa Waiver Program.
  • People from certain low-income categories to get protective masks for free: According to a bill adopted on Tuesday by the Lower House Health and Family Committee, certain categories of people are to receive a free set of 30 protective masks per month. The scope of the bill is the purchase of coronavirus masks for the population by the Health Ministry and their distribution.
  • Senate adopts simple motion against Labor Minister: The Senate plenary adopted on Tuesday by a vote of 76 to 28 the simple motion filed by the Social Democrats against Labor Minister Violeta Alexandru.
  • ForMin Aurescu and Serbian counterpart Dacic discuss co-operation in context of COVID-19 pandemic: Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu had, on Tuesday, a telephone conversation with Ivica Dacic, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, at the request of the Serbian dignitary, the two senior officials addressing the bilateral relationship in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Orban, at videoconference with EU states’ ambassadors: Now, our motto is “Economy before anything else!”: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban stated, on Tuesday, during an exchange of opinions with the ambassadors of the member states of the EU in Bucharest regarding the way to manage the pandemic crisis on the continent, that “now, when from a healthcare point of view things are starting to re-enter normality, the motto of the Government is ‘The economy before anything else!'”.
  • Prime Minister tells Alliance of Trade Unions of Defense Industry that this sector of activity, a priority: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban stressed on Tuesday that the defense industry is a “priority” and specified that “there is a willingness on the part of the Government to increase the competitiveness and efficiency of this sector of activity”, during the meeting which he had with the representatives of Alliance of Trade Unions of the Defence and Aeronautical Industry (ASIAA).
  • PM Orban: Naval shipyards – a very important component of Romanian economy: Naval shipyards are an “extremely” important component of the Romanian economy with enough competitiveness existing in this economic field that allows the further development of the areas where they are located and of the country, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Wednesday in Braila. He said the Government is watching “very carefully” what happens in the shipbuilding and repairing industry. The PM is paying a visit on Wednesday to the Braila and Galati counties accompanied by the Minister of Economy Virgil Popescu and Minister of Transport Lucian Bode.

 

Impact on the economy

  • Inflation could go down to 2 per cent this year, according to Finance Minister: Minister of Finance Florin Citu estimates inflation will go down below 2 per cent this year, in the context of a downward trend at present. The National Bank of Romania has reduced the inflation forecast for the end of this year down to 2.8 from 3 per cent and for the next year, the central bank forecasts inflation of 2.5 per cent, compared with the previous estimates indicating inflation of 3.2 per cent. Moreover, the Minister of Finance said the total amount earmarked for investments reaches 13 billion lei in the first five months of the year, the highest in the past 10 years.
  • FinMin: Next Generation EU, ambitious economic recovery tool, a symbol of unity, solidarity: Next Generation EU, worth EUR 750 billion, is an ambitious economic recovery tool, which we must put into practice quickly and efficiently, Finance Minister Florin Citu said on Tuesday in the videoconference of the Economic and Financial Council (ECOFIN).
  • TransMin Bode says Romania needs investments of almost 80 B euro in transport area, in the next 10 years: Romania needs investments of almost 80 billion euro in the transport area, in the next 10 years, and the money will be taken from European funds and the state budget, Transport Minister Lucian Bode announced on Tuesday evening.
  • WB expects Romania’s GDP to shrink by 5.7% this year: Romania’s GDP will contract by 5.7% this year, and recover by 5.4% next year, shows the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report. The updated forecast marks a steep 9.1pp downward revision for this year’s GDP forecast, compared to the last WB projection for Romania dated January.
  • Services, IT&C, construction, main contributors to Romania’s 2.4% GDP growth in Q1: Romania’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 2.4%, in real terms, in the first quarter of the year (Q1) compared to the same period last year. The quarterly GDP thus reached RON 216.3 billion (EUR 45.1 bln) at current prices, according to the detailed data released by the statistics office INS.
  • At meeting of dedicated Working Group, Deputy PM Turcan highlights importance of Three Seas Initiative projects: Three Seas Initiative (3SI) projects could provide important support for the economic recovery, with positive effects on the labor market in the current situation marked by the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Raluca Turcan said on Tuesday, as she chaired the meeting of the Inter-institutional Working Group on the Three Seas Initiative held at Victoria Palace, a release informs. Attending the meeting were Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu, Finance Minister Florin Citu, Minister of Economy Virgil Popescu, representatives at the level of Secretary of State with the Ministries of Transport, European Funds, National Defense, the Presidential Administration, and representatives of the EximBank management.
  • Fondul Proprietatea: Bill on measures to protect national interest in economy threatens the capital market, discourages further investments: Fondul Proprietatea has urged the Chamber of Deputies, as the decision-making chamber, to analyze the potential negative effects and to reject the draft bill on certain measures to protect national interests in the economic activity. The piece of legislation, which intends to suspend all disposals of shares owned by the Romanian State for a period of 2 years, will seriously jeopardize Romania’s economic recovery by obstructing the development of the capital market and discouraging potential investments.
  • Romania’s Govt. says Pillar II fund managers should not guarantee real yields: Romania’s Government issued a negative opinion on a draft law amendment drafted by Social Democrat (PSD) MP Mirela Furtuna, for guaranteeing the real value of the contributions paid to the mandatory private pension funds (Pillar II), Profit.ro reported. The Government claims that the amendment, if implemented, will generate additional costs for fund managers of over EUR 200 million, and their investment policies will become extremely conservative – with a negative impact on the returns obtained, which will bring long-term damage to the contributors.
  • Romanian farming group prepares private placement before listing its shares: Romanian holding company Holde Agri Invest plans to raise RON 12 million (EUR 2.5 mln) in a private placement of shares to develop its storage spaces and invest in irrigation facilities.
  • Canadian mining company raises USD 16.6 mln for Romanian projects: Euro Sun Mining (formerly Carpathian Gold), which operates the Rovina gold project and another prospect in Romania, has raised CAD 22.32 million in funding (USD 16.6 mln). The company will use the funds for exploration and the development of its mining projects.
  • German investor sells stake in Romania’s largest air carrier: German Airways group sold its 10% stake in Blue Air, the largest Romanian air carrier and the second-largest player on the local market, after Wizz Air.
  • German retailer Kaufland to invest EUR 300 mln in Romania this year: German retailer Kaufland will invest some EUR 300 million in Romania to purchase land, remodel old stores, and inaugurate new ones, compared to EUR 148 mln invested last year. By the end of the financial year 2020, on February 28, 2021, the retailer will have 13 additional stores, four of which it has already opened. Kaufland plans to have 160 stores in Romania by 2024.
  • CEZ estimates Romanian assets for sale at over EUR 1 bln: Czech utility group CEZ has estimated the aggregated equity of its Romanian subsidiaries, which are up for sale, at EUR 1.07 billion, according to a presentation prepared for prospective bidders and consulted by Economica.net. The Czech group thus expects to get a minimum price of EUR 1 bln for the Romanian assets, the publication concluded.
  • Wizz Air adds flights from Bucharest to Vienna, Heraklion: Hungarian group Wizz Air, one of the biggest low-cost airlines in Europe and the market leader in Romania by the number of passengers transported, announced new flights connecting Bucharest to Vienna and Heraklion, the capital of the Greek island of Crete.
  • Tourism trade unions threaten to sue the government if they are not allowed to open restaurants: The Federation of Romanian Tourism Employers (FPTR) announced on Wednesday that they will sue the government on the grounds of undermining the national economy if hotel restaurants do not open on June 15, according to a press release issued to Mediafax news agency.
  • AmCham asks for the risks pointed by Standard & Poor’s to be publicly explained: AmCham Romania believes that Standard & Poor’s maintaining of Romania’s sovereign rating at “BBB- with a negative perspective” reflects the realities faced by the national economy after the shock generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was based on a number of factors, including low levels of public debt and external debt, Romania’s ability to borrow, the NBR’s monetary policy and the programs announced by the European Union. AmCham Romania points out that it is important that the risks that Standard & Poor’s has identified in the context of this assessment are publicly explained, and that public policies and priorities continue to reflect a strong commitment to maintaining balanced public finances, to generating investments with a multiplier effect in the economy and to making the most of the opportunities available for Romania in the context of the EU financing package.
  • Healthcare fund registers almost RON 3 billion lei deficit in the first four months due to COVID-19, up 75% YOY: In the first four months of this year Romania had a deficit of RON 2.83 billion to the National Health Insurance Fund (FNUASS), which finances most of the healthcare system, up by over 75% compared to the same period last year, shows an analysis drawn by Economica.net, based on the execution data of FNUASS. The subsidies received by the Healthcare Fund in the first four months of this year exceeded RON 902 million and are over nine times higher than in the same period of 2019, in the context of the FNUASS budget supporting COVID-19 related medical services and treatment for insured and uninsured patients until September 30, 2020.