Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Romania reports close to 17,200 coronavirus cases, more than 10,000 patients declared cured: Romania recorded 155 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 17,191 cases on May 19, at 13:00, the authorities announced. Of the confirmed cases, 10,166 patients were declared cured and discharged from the hospital. At the same time, 1,126 Covid-19 patients died. A total of 195 patients are currently admitted to intensive care units. By May 19, 322,074 tests had been carried out at a national level.
- Four out of ten Romanians would vaccinate against coronavirus, half think state hid information during pandemic: More than four out of ten Romanians (44%) are willing to vaccinate themselves against the coronavirus, once a homologated one would become available. In contrast, 33% would not get vaccinated, regardless of the circumstance, a survey by the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy (IRES) revealed.
- Sibiu County Hospital will be able to treat COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Unit with hyperimmune plasma: COVID-19 patients from the Intensive Care Clinical Section of Sibiu County Emergency Clinical Hospital can also be treated with hyperimmune plasma, according to a press release sent to AGERPRES on Tuesday. “We are glad that our request to the Ministry of Health was approved quickly and that we can start this type of treatment, especially since the ICU is technically and professionally prepared to perform such procedures.” said the head of the ICU Clinical Department, Mihai Sava.
Political and regulatory
- Health Minister Tataru: Immunological testing, to be conducted in each county and in each age group: The Minister of Health, Nelu Tataru, told Monday evening private TV broadcaster Digi24 that the testing that will start at national level after June 1 has the role of showing the percentage of people in Romania who have developed immunity and have antibodies to the new coronavirus. Regarding the gap between the state of emergency, which ended on Thursday night, and the state of alert, which came into force on Sunday night, Minister Tataru said: “I hope that the joy we had was prudent, I also saw some places where it was not so prudent – and from Thursday onwards we will have an increase in the number of cases, but small. (…) I hope that the effects we will see in the coming days will not be so serious,” said Minister Tataru, adding that all those who return from abroad will enter in isolation at home.
- PM Orban: Romania, a democracy, restrictive measures time-limited and only for Romanians’ health: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Monday evening on private broadcaster B1 TV that Romania is a democracy, and the restriction of citizens’ rights in the state of emergency took place in accordance with the law, only for a limited period of time, being meant to defend the health and life of each Romanian. Ludovic Orban said that he asked, on Monday, the institutions of the state with the right of control – the State Inspectorate for Road Traffic Control and all other entities, the Labour Inspectorate, ANSVSA (Sanitary Veterinary and for Food Safety National Authority, ed. n.) and all the Public Health Directorates – to be “extremely present in the field” and to ensure compliance with the measures imposed by the state of alert.
- AgriMin Oros: PNL gov’t works on strategy to bring Diaspora back; salary in agriculture – 3,000 lei: The PNL (National Liberal Party) government works on a strategy to bring DIaspora back home by raising the net salary in the agricultural sector up to 3,000 lei, the Minister of Agriculture, Adrian Oros, stated on Monday, at the debate on the simple motion of censure submitted by the PSD (Social Democratic Party), ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) and affiliates of the social democratic group. He specified that the Government will earmark 43 million euros this year for the “Young Farmer” Program, which will have two components, one meant for the Diaspora, to receive 50 per cent of the money. Minister Oros also said that, for the first time, the beneficiaries of this program will receive up to 50 hectares under lease or concession. The simple motion “Laziness, lying and incompetence of Minister Oros,” initiated by 72 MPs from PSD, ALDE and affiliates of the social democratic group was debated by the plenary sitting of the Senate. The signatories asked for the resignation of the Minister of Agriculture, Adrian Oros. The motion passed with 68 votes “in favor,” 32 “against” and five abstentions, but produces no effects. PSD spokesman Lucian Romaşcanu said on Tuesday that next week the Social Democrats will submit two simple motions in Parliament against the ministers of Internal Affairs and Education. “The simple motions are to warn the rulers that they are not doing their job properly and we hope that these motions, as was the case yesterday with the motion against the Agriculture Minister, will sound the alarm and correct their actions, so that things should happen according to the Romanians’ wishes and what they promised to them when they took over the government”, said Romaşcanu.
- Deputies’ Chamber Speaker Marcel Ciolacu asked for PM Orban’s resignation and plans for a censorship motion during the Prime Minister’s Question Time in the Deputies Chamber plenary. A similar stance was taken by Pro Romania president Victor Ponta. In retort, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Monday told the Opposition representatives that they don’t understand anything from the European Union, and that they should be ashamed for talking about several thousand Romanians who now go to work abroad, in the context in which they chased millions of Romanians away, when they had the power, through the measures taken. When responding to the questions asked by MPs, Orban said that the Liberal governance took more measures to the benefit of companies than the previous governance. He added that the necessary amounts have been earmarked to employees working for the companies which could no longer operate during the pandemic. Ludovic Orban said on Monday that the restrictions imposed by the Government in the economic field have been related to the risk which the respective economic activities posed to people’s lives and health and that they were only limited restrictions, as well. For instance, he said, no building site was closed. PSD President Marcel Ciolacu announced on Sunday having discussed with Pro Romania and ALDE leaders to give up summer recess and continue parliamentary works through July and August, as well as plans for gathering a majority in view of passing a censorship motion and forming a ‘government of national union’.
- Draft bill aims to increase the term of mayors and elected local officials in Romania: The Romanian Senate’s public administration committee adopted on Monday, May 18, a favorable opinion on a draft bill that aims to extend the term of mayors and local elected officials from four to five years, G4media.ro reported. However, before reaching the vote, the project must also receive the green light from the legal committee. The public administration committee adopted the report on the draft law with the support of the Social Democrats (PSD) and Liberal Democrats (ALDE). Sources within the party claim that PSD would support, in principle, the idea of five-year mandates, but considering that it cannot be applied starting with this year’s local elections, it would not be a priority.
- President Iohannis – EC head phone call about EU economic recovery plan, budget revision proposals: President Klaus Iohannis spoke on the phone on Monday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, with the discussion focusing mainly on the proposals the EC will put forward by the end of this month for the EU’s economic recovery plan and the revised proposal for the 2021 – 2027 EU budget, the Presidential Administration informed. According to the cited source, President Iohannis expressed Romania’s full support for identifying the most appropriate solutions for the EU’s regaining its economic strength.
- Draft law for cancellation of some fines from state of emergency, submitted to the Senate: The Chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, announced that the party he leads, together with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Pro Romania have submitted to Parliament the draft law announced on May 6, through which most of the fines issued during the state of emergency will be automatically canceled and not through the court.
- State of alert to be voted in the plenary session on Wednesday – sources: The joint plenary of the two Chambers will meet tomorrow to vote on the Government decision establishing the state of alert, said parliamentary sources participating in the meeting of the permanent bureaus. The Social Democrats will vote the state of alert, but it will impose some amendments in Parliament. One of the proposed changes would be for the obligation to wear masks in closed spaces to not apply to children. PSD spokesman Romaşcanu stated that the Government should ensure availability of masks and provide them free of charge for people who are in difficult financial situations.
Impact on the economy
- PM Orban: We are preparing an economic reconstruction plan on a healthy basis: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban has stated on Monday that the Government will put into practice a plan based on the principle “of producing in Romania what can be produced in Romania,” mentioning that he will also set up a scheme to guarantee loans for companies that cannot access IMM Invest (program for SMEs). He argued, while participating in the Deputies’ Chamber plenary meeting, within the Prime Minister’s Question Time, that he identified financial resources of almost 2 billion euro for programs to support SMEs in investment projects and 300 million euro capital for the recovery of companies which have been affected, HORECA sector included. “We are preparing a plan of economic reconstruction on a healthy basis, which should put investments first, because the healthy growth must be based on investments, innovation, implementation of innovation results, on increasing competitiveness, processing in the Romanian economy. We are developing a very broad investment support scheme. (…) There has never been a project in Romania as ambitious as our project. We want to earmark huge amounts for public investments in transport, energy, sanitary infrastructure,” Orban said.” We have identified financial resources, almost 2 billion euro, in order to generate programs to support SMEs in investment projects and 300 million euro capital for restarting the companies which have been affected, HORECA included. (…) We are also thinking about furloughed employment schemes. Our estimate is that 800,000 Romanians are seeking jobs. Tools are needed for support, or the payment of salaries for the ones who re-employ those who are put on furlough and for those who hire workforce,” Ludovic Orban said. However, a few hours after announcing in Parliament “huge sums” for investments, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said an assessment of financial resources was being made at the time being. “It is difficult for me to give you an amount now, because we are waiting for a decision at European level. We have some programs already thought out, which we are going to operationalize “, said the head of the Government, on B1 TV, when asked if Romania has money for investments.
- PM Orban: Gov’t supports resumption of HORECA activity when the epidemiological situation allows it: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban continued on Monday the consultations with representatives of the HORECA industry in view of resumption of the activity of this sector under safety conditions when the epidemiological situation regarding the novel coronavirus allows it, the Government announced in a Facebook post. According to the Executive, the talks were aimed at establishing a calendar for the reopening of the tourist season in Romania, open bars and coffee shops, as well as the necessary support measures for the recovery of the sector. PM Ludovic Orban had a meeting on Monday with the HoReCa representatives, with a preliminary deal on the terraces and restaurants re-opening in Romania from June 1 under safety conditions. Hotels might also re-open as of June 15 if an agreement is also reached in this respect. “The PM’s promise is June 1 for terraces and June 15 for the summer season (…) if there are no major side-slips in the number of infections”, said Daniel Mischie, CEO City Grill, who attended the talks. This calendar was agreed with the Government in the meeting.
- FinMin Citu: It’s first time in history when fiscal, monetary policy work almost perfectly: It’s the first time in history when fiscal and monetary policy work nearly perfectly, stated, on Monday evening, at private broadcaster B1TV, the Minister of Public Finance, Florin Citu, mentioning that the message given by the National Bank of Romania (BNR) is very important. The Minister of Finance emphasized that this year the budget saw the allotment of money for investments, more than last year, representing nearly 10 pct of the GDP. He mentioned that the budget deficit is financed through bonds’ emissions. The governor of the National Bank of Romania, Mugur Isarescu, announced on Monday that the immediate objective of the central bank is still to ensure the necessary liquidity to finance the expenses of the state and the real economy, in conditions of relative stability of the exchange rate and gradual and sustainable reduction of interest rates.
- FinMin Citu prepares fiscal incentives for well-paying employers: The Minister of Finance, Florin Citu, announced on Monday evening on private television broadcaster B1 TV that he is preparing fiscal incentives for well-paying employers, but also some measures for those who work in malls. According to him, solutions are currently being sought to keep the Romanians who have returned to the country, and as many as 10,000 people are needed in retail.
- Romania sends to UEFA guarantees regarding organization of EURO 2020 in Bucharest: Romania officially reconfirmed its commitment to organizing matches during the EURO 2020 in Bucharest, through a guarantee letter sent to UEFA, the Ministry of Youths and Sports announces.
- Romania posts EU’s top growth in construction production this March: Romania’s production in construction was 2.1 percent higher in March 2020 compared to the previous month, the highest advance among EU member states, shows data released on Tuesday by the European statistics office Eurostat. Romania also tops the ranking by the annual growth rate of the construction sector, with 28.1 percent this March.
- Number of suspended employment contracts falls by more than 55,000 on Monday: The number of employment contracts suspended since the declaration of the state of emergency reached 578,789 on Monday, according to figures with the Labor Inspectorate released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. Thus, the number of suspended employment contracts dropped by 55,920 on Monday, compared to the figure registered on Friday, of 634,709.
- Banks in Romania have solved 83pct of the 317,000 requests from customers to suspend installments: The banks in Romania have solved, two months after the onset of the health crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 83pct of the approximately 317,000 applications submitted by customers, individual and legal persons for the suspension of monthly payment obligations from credit agreements, announced on Monday the Romanian Association of Banks (ARB).
- Less than 2,000 people fly out of Romanian airports as domestic flights resume, minister says: Less than 2,000 people departed from local airports as domestic flights resumed on Monday, May 18, transport minister Lucian Bode told local TV station Digi24. “Over 95% of the flights were canceled. Last year, the daily average of passengers on all Romanian airports was 65,000. Today, we carried 1,797,” he said.
- Study: Romania should capture investors disappointed by China: Romania must focus on encouraging domestic production for local and foreign markets, according to an analysis conducted by experts from Moneycorp Romania, quoted by Economica.net. Opportunities for “made in Romania” products, namely high-value affordable goods, will be significant in the medium and long term, according to the study.
- Study: Romania’s courier market to rise by 15% in 2020: The turnover of the postal and courier services market in Romania could reach RON 6 billion (EUR 1.24 bln) this year, up 15% from an estimated level of RON 5.2 bln (EUR 1.08 bln) in 2019, according to an analysis published by market research firm KeysFin.
- Lime brings back its e-scooters on Bucharest streets: Lime, the electric scooter rental company that entered the Romanian market in April last year resumes operations in Bucharest starting May 15, with a smaller fleet that will serve the same operational area as in the past, Wall-street.ro reported. The company withdrew its scooters on March 19 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Ford factory in Romania steps up pace of operations: Ford Romania, the second car manufacturer on the local market, stepped up the pace of operations from one to two shifts (out of three) on May 18, the company announced.
- Banks start to exercise extreme caution because of COVID. ING raises the advance on home loans to 35%. Other banks, might follow suit: Last week, ING Bank increased the advance on retail mortgages / real estate loans, also known as home loans, from 15% to 35%. The Dutch say the measure is temporary and will be reassessed monthly.
- Government considers grants of up to 800,000 euros for companies: Liviu Rogojinaru, secretary of state in the Ministry of Economy, spoke about a new support program for Romanian companies, worth a total of one billion euros. “One billion euros that will come now, immediately, to help Romanian companies. We have in mind the companies from HORECA, horeca transports, transports and companies closed during this unfortunate period. We also want to help companies without any employees, they are the ones that were forgotten and which have had a hard time during this period”, Rogojinaru said at the videoconference ” Business in the New Economy”, organized by “Efficient Romania”and EM.360.
- Government goes out to borrow on foreign markets. Sells 5- and 10-year Eurobonds: The government today went out to borrow from foreign markets with two 5- and 10-year Eurobond issues. The state borrowed most recently from the foreign market in January, when it borrowed 3 billion euros. Romania has a recommended rating for investments from the three major agencies, S&P, Fitch and Moody’s, but all currently have a negative outlook for Romania’s sovereign rating. Recently, Fitch and Moody’s revised Romania’s rating rating from stable to negative in April. Separately, the Ministry of Public Finance (MFP) borrowed 514.4 million lei from commercial banks on Monday, through a benchmark government bond issue, with a residual maturity of 57 months, at an average yield of 3.75% per year, according to data transmitted by the National Bank of Romania (BNR). An additional auction is scheduled for Tuesday, through which the state wants to attract another 75 million lei at the yield set on Monday.