Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Romania reports 165 new coronavirus cases in the last 24h: Romania reported 165 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 17,036 on Monday, May 18, at 13:00, the authorities announced. Of the confirmed cases, 9,930 patients were declared cured and discharged from the hospital, while 193 patients are admitted to intensive care units. The overall number of coronavirus patients who have died reached to 1,107. By May 18, a number of 313,621 tests had been carried out at national level. Notably, a decreasing trend can be observed over the weekend, from 267 new cases on Saturday, to 167 new cases on Sunday and the 165 new cases reported on Monday. However, Romania’s top microbiologist Alexandru Rafila cautioned that the effects of the “euphoria” of the past weekend, the first one after the state of emergency had been lifted, might be seen in 7 days, although in his opinion, things would probably get back to normal and people would respect the rules imposed by the authorities under the state of alert. As the law on the state of alert had not covered the fines, people have rushed to go out, filling parks and avenues, while cars have queued on the national roads during this past weekend.
- Romanian refrigerators factory suspends operations after Covid-19 detected: Arctic, the Romanian subsidiary of Turkish group Arcelik, has temporarily closed its refrigerators factory in Găești in southern Romania, after dozens of its employees tested positive for coronavirus. All employees of the factory in Gaesti will enter technical unemployment for the entire period while the production lines remain closed, the company announced. The factory employs 4,000 and is the biggest refrigerators production unit in continental Europe.
Political and regulatory
- Law on state of alert comes into force in Romania with new fines for those breaking restrictions: The law on the state of alert, which was voted by the Romanian Parliament last week, came into force on Monday, May 18. Thus, starting today, the authorities can fine those who fail to respect the new restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The fines range from RON 500 (EUR 103) to RON 15,000 (some EUR 3,100). During these three days (Friday to Sunday), the law enforcement bodies have abstained from giving fines to people breaching the new regulations, although some people broke the social distancing and other safety rules over the past weekend. Minister of Interior Affairs, Marcel Vela, told, on Saturday, those “gathering in large groups” and ignoring protection measures that their actions could endanger public health, given that the pandemic has not concluded.
- PM: We are going from a state of alert to a state of maximum alert: “Along with the adoption of the government resolution we continue the state of alert, but, to put it in other words, we are going from a state of alert to a state of maximum alert, for the law is giving us all tools to enable the observance of the measures and rules in order to defend the health and life of the people,” Orban said. The premier also added, referring to the fines, that 98% of the Romanians comply with the rules and they must be protected from a minority who breaks the rules and endanger the public health. The new state of alert comes along with some amendments compared to the previous resolution taken by the Committee for the Emergency Situations on Friday. So, according to the new document, the number of people who can attend to private events in enclosed spaces is 8, and not 16 as the Committee had established on Friday. Traveling outside the city of residence is allowed only based on an affidavit that comprises all situations when the ride is allowed. At the same time, groups larger than 3 people are banned when going out inside the locality of residence unless they are member of the same family. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Monday that he was “stupefied” to see that the same people who slammed the authorities for imposing fines during the state of emergency are now unhappy that no sanctions have been applied after the start of the state of alert. The PM announced that he has summoned for Monday evening all the state institutions with control rights in order to establish a detailed plan to ensure the observance of the measures comprised in the state of alert which will be adopted by the Executive through a decision.
- PM Orban: Government to establish state of alert by decision, in accordance with Law 55 provisions: The government will establish a state of alert by decision of the Government, in accordance with the provisions of Law 55/2020, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Monday. “As you well know, there is the previous basis established by Ordinance 21, instead, after the entry into force of the law, in order to avoid any comments, or polemic regarding the state of alert, so that things are clear and that we do not have many disputes and polemics, the decision to establish the state of alert by decision of the Government in accordance with the provisions of the law is the decision that we have adopted,” said Ludovic Orban, in the government sitting. The Government approved on Monday the decision regarding the establishment of the state of alert, in accordance with the provisions of Law 55/2020.
- Coronavirus state of alert: Rules for air, train travel: Travelers taking the plane need to wear a mask and arrive at the airport three hours before their scheduled departure, according to the rules concerning air transport outlined by the Transport and Health ministries. The rules are covered by a Government Order, published in the Official Monitor on Saturday, May 16, and include the measures that airports and airlines need to follow during the state of alert to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Transport Ministry also announced measures to be taken by train stations, train operators, and the operator of the Bucharest subway. Wearing a mask will be compulsory on board of trains for the entire duration of the trip. The ticket inspector will have to check the tickets without touching them, and travelers will be encouraged to purchase tickets online, in advance. Wearing a mask will also be compulsory inside the subway while waiting for the train and throughout the trip. The seats that passengers can use will be marked accordingly.
- PSD’s Ciolacu: We don’t go on recess but have extraordinary parliament sessions both in July, August: The acting president of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Marcel Ciolacu said on Sunday evening, on the private television station Romania TV, that he talked with the leader of Pro Romania, Victor Ponta, as well as with that of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, for Parliament not go on recess but work in extraordinary sessions both in July and in August. He also specified that PSD wants to submit a motion of censure, but not during the state of alert period. The spokesperson of the Social Democrat Party (PSD), Lucian Romascanu, announced that the Social Democrats are preparing a censure motion against the government, which will be submitted “if things get worst”. The PSD senator also announced that the Social Democrats will submit four more simple motions, on healthcare, internal affairs, education and labor.
- Transparency International Romania demands information on state of emergency procurements to be made public: Transparency International Romania asks the institutions of the central and local public administration to publicly release the information regarding the procurements made during the state of emergency, and the competent authorities to verify the legality of the contracts signed in the last two months.
- ALDE draft: President and Prime Minister, obligated to present to Parliament report on crisis management: The chairman of the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals (ALDE), Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, wrote a letter to the leaders of all parliamentary parties, requesting their support in view of debating in emergency procedure a draft decision regarding the obligation of the Government and President to present information on the way in which the crisis generated by the coronavirus epidemic was managed.
- Romascanu (PSD): Nearly one million children do not have access at this time to online education: The spokesperson of the PSD, Lucian Romascanu, stated that nearly one million children do not have access at this time to online education and requests that the authorities resolve this issue. The government has adopted, in its May 7 session, at the proposal of the Education and Research Ministry, a decision regarding the supplementation of the ministry’s budget with the sum of 150 million RON for the year 2020, which will be used to acquire electronic devices connected to the internet, to be used by children in disadvantaged environments.
- PM Orban: Each school will receive, through its school inspectorates, the required number of masks: Pupils and teachers which will return to school to prepare for the national exams will receive, for free, protection masks that the Government will distribute through the school inspectorates, stated, on Saturday, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban. He mentioned that the acquisition will be made, in centralized system, by the Health Ministry. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban was present, on Saturday, in Albita Border Crossing Point of Vaslui County, to welcome a medical team of Romanian doctors and nurses who participated in a medical mission in the Republic of Moldova.
- PM Orban: Tourism sector to be regulated probably after June 1: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced, on Saturday, that the Government will regulate, probably after June 1, the conditions in which the tourism season will be opened this year. “From May 15, hotels are open. The only restriction is related to the non-use of common dining areas. Kitchens may open, but meals may be served only in room-service system, in the room. In what regards the tourism season it’s certain that probably after June 1 we will regulate this sector. Our intention, sure, is dependent on not there being a wider spread, a larger number of the cases of infection, our intention is to allow the tourism season in well-regulated conditions,” stated the head of the executive.
- PM Orban promises gradual return to normalcy, provided that people act responsibly: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Friday that bar, restaurant and cafe terraces have not yet reopened, but that as solutions are found to reduce the virus transmission risk and provided that people act responsibly, they could be opened again. “Our intention is to gradually relax all restrictions according to a well thought out plan based on precise epidemiological risk assessments. If we don’t see a significant increase in the number of cases by June 1, other relaxation measures will follow, but I state this again – depending on the epidemiological risk assessments. The terraces didn’t resume activity on May 15, but as the weather is getting nice and as we find solutions to reduce the virus transmission risk, it’s possible to reopen them,” Orban said in Sebes.
Impact on the economy
- Gas imports drop by 6.2 pct in Q1 of 2020, production reduces by 3 pct: Romania imported, in the first three months of 2020, 629,000 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) in usable natural gas, by 6.2 pct less (41,700 toe) than the similar period of 2019, according to data centralized by the National Institute for Statistics (INS).
- ASFOR proposes “Green Romania in 10 steps” strategy document to relaunch forest economics: Foresters and the wood industry must ensure a sustainable management of the wood resource and a superior manufacturing of wood, which would ensure jobs in Romania and develop all the branches of the forest economics, claim the representatives of the Romanian Foresters Association (ASFOR). In this sense, the ASFOR’s Board of Directors approved the “Green Romania in 10 steps” strategy document, by which measures are proposed for the relaunching of the forest economics, which would contribute to the relaunch of the national economy on ecological bases and would allow the reaching of targets for carbon capture and storage (CCS), essential in the fight against climate change.
- Romania’s FinMin argues for more fiscal and monetary stimuli: Romania’s economy needs more fiscal and monetary stimuli to recover in June the ground that it has most likely lost during April and May, finance minister Florin Citu said, commenting on the outstanding Q1 GDP performance announced by the statistics office INS on Friday. “We must restart the economy and relax the fiscal and monetary policy even more because we need a strong June so that we can avoid any decrease this year,” said Florin Citu, according to Wall-street.ro.
- Construction work in Romania expands by one third in Q1: The construction work volume index increased by 32.6% in the first quarter of the year (Q1) compared to the same period last year, the statistics office INS announced. The sector alone might have contributed 0.7 pp to the 2.4% year-on-year GDP growth in the quarter.