Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Number of coronavirus cases in Romania reaches to 9,242: Romania registered 306 Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 9,242 by Tuesday, April 21, at 13:00, the Strategic Communication Group informed. Out of the total cases, 2,153 people were declared cured and were discharged from the hospital, while the death toll reached to 482. A total of 245 Covid-19 patients are currently admitted to intensive care units. Furthermore, 101,552 tests had been carried out nation-wide by April 21. The number of new cases of coronavirus infections registered in Romania decreased by 10.5% in the last week (April 13-19) compared to the previous week, according to data from the National Institute of Public Health.
- Over 300 patients and employees from a psychiatric recovery center in Suceava have been confirmed with coronavirus: Over 300 people – 242 patients and 59 employees – from the Sasca Mica Neuropsychiatric Recovery Center in Suceava County have been confirmed with coronavirus.
Political and regulatory
- Lockdown measures maintained, restrictions to be lifted gradually: The lockdown measures will be maintained as the number of Covid-19 cases is still growing, health minister Nelu Tătaru said. Once the number of new and critical cases goes down, the restrictions will be eased. This will be done gradually, considering the various age groups, and taking into account the situation in every community, he explained. He explained that any easing of the lockdown measures “will come with certain restrictions, like wearing a mask and gloves.” Tătaru also ruled out lifting the ban on public gatherings and sports competitions or reopening the malls. The Strategic Communication Group at the Interior Affairs Ministry also said on Monday, April 20, that there were no plans to ease the restrictions in the coming period and that people should follow the measures imposed. The group also said that the European Commission recommendations would be taken into account when easing the restrictions. Meanwhile, a controversial document has been circulated in the public space on Monday, proposed by Adrian Streinu Cercel, the manager of Matei Bals Institute of Infectious Diseases, with severe restrictions especially for elderly people such as separation from their families in special accommodations, stirring harsh political reactions, yet Health Minister Tataru infirmed that such measures would be considered, while PNL deputy Florin Roman called any further spread of information on this topic “fake news” and the Ombudsman urged the authorities to reassure the population after receiving hundreds of petitions.
- Klaus Iohannis: It’s time to think about a relaxation plan, but after May 15th. It will be done in steps and we will live with restrictions: President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday held a new meeting to evaluate the measures regarding the management of the COVID-19 epidemic. The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and several ministers. After the meeting, the President said that after May 15, the restrictions imposed by the authorities could be lifted, if the number of cases and deaths would decrease. Klaus Iohannis criticized the document published in the public space elaborated by the Matei Balș Institute, which stipulates the measure of quarantine for persons of over 65 years old. “On the economic side, where a relaunch package is in the works, the Minister of Economy will provide more details. (…) There was a document which came to explain what to do. It’s not possible this way, for every institution to come up with its own plan. An idea came up that led to much anxiety. Someone proposed an absurd measure. My message for the elderly is clear: ‘Do not worry. Nobody imposes inhuman measures on you. Such plans only cause panic and panic is the last thing we need. We want to restart Romania’s economy and we need a plan. Relaxation means that the authorities will be less involved in each person’s life and the responsibility becomes your own,” the President said.
- US Ambassador in Bucharest: Romania will receive $800,000 as health assistance in the fight against COVID-19: U.S. Ambassador to Romania, Adrian Zuckerman has announced that Romania will receive a USD 800,000 aid as health assistance to help local authorities cope with the fight against the novel Coronavirus.
- Govt. platform for helping troubled SMEs in RO crashes on launch day: The online platform launched by the Romanian Government to collect applications from small and medium enterprises hit by the COVID-19 crisis crashed on the day of its launch. Finance minister Florin Citu accused a cyberattack on the website. The imminvest.ro domain was set up to collect applications from SMEs that want state aid to combat the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses. The website would be functional again from April 22.
- Violence erupts in Romania’s poor communities amid COVID-19 restrictions: Several violent incidents occurred across Romania during the Easter holidays leading to confrontations between groups of people and the law enforcement forces. Most of these incidents appeared in ghettos on the outskirts of big cities, inhabited by poor communities, mainly made of Roma ethnics. Such incidents occurred in Hunedoara, Ploiesti, Brasov suburbs (Codlea, Sacele), and even in Bucharest’s Rahova neighborhood. Following these incidents, Romania’s Interior Ministry decided to increase the number of intervention troops and to keep to helicopters in the air to monitor the situation in such hotspots, according to Digi24.ro.
- Mayor of Bucharest’s District 3 fined for breaking Covid-19 lockdown regulations: Robert Negoiţă, the mayor of Bucharest’s District 3, and his partner received a RON 10,000 (EUR 2,083) fine each for not complying with the Covid-19 lockdown rules. The Police fined him after videos of the mayor biking in IOR Park on Easter Sunday circulated on social media. All parks in Bucharest are closed for the duration of the state of emergency. Law enforcement forces in Romania issued about 200,000 fines for failure to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, from March 24 until April 19. The total amount of the penalties was almost EUR 78 mln, which is equal to the money collected in February from the corporate tax.
- Online platform offers support to Romanians living abroad: The newly-launched platform DiasporaHub.ro aims to offer support during the coronavirus pandemic to Romanian citizens living outside of the country. Volunteers of the Code for Romania Task Force developed the platform, in a partnership with the Romanian Government through the Authority for the Digitalization of Romania, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the Department for Romanians Everywhere.
- DefMin: Over 2,100 servicemen – in actions to limit spread of novel coronavirus in past 24 hours: Over 2,100 servicemen participated, in past 24 hours, in actions to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, a National Defence Ministry (MApN) release informs. MApN reminds that servicemen with the 49th Arges CBRN Defence Battalion from Pitesti are continuing the mission started on April 15 to decontaminate and disinfect the roadways in Suceava County. Furthermore, starting with Tuesday morning, structures of the MApN are supporting the personnel of the Constanta County Gendarmerie Inspectorate and the local Police in imposing quarantine measures in an area of the Cuza Voda locality.
- Draft – freight carriers, exempted from road tax and bridge tolls all year: Freight carriers could be exempted from paying the tax for using the national road network (rovigneta), respectively for bridge crossing, until the end of this year, according to a draft initiated by UDMR.
Impact on the economy
- Fitch revises Romania’s rating outlook to negative, projects 8%-of-GDP public deficit: International rating agency Fitch revised the outlook on Romania’s BBB- sovereign rating from stable to negative, citing substantial worsening of Romania’s public finances due to the COVID-19 pandemic aggravating the already weak fiscal position. The move came two weeks ahead of the scheduled regular review on May 1. Romania’s finance minister Florin Citu blamed the Parliament for Fitch’s perspective change. He argued that the populist laws passed by the Social Democrat majority significantly increase public expenditures while not generating revenues to balance the budget. In retort, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) claims that the rating agencies give minus marks to Romania and shows the disaster created by the National Liberal Party (PNL) Government, and the current Government has not taken any measures to stimulate or protect the population.
- Over a third of Romania’s automotive industry employees return to work: “About 35% of the 230,000 employees in Romania’s automotive industry will return to work as of April 21. By the end of May, the share will rise to 80%,” estimates Adrian Sandu, general secretary of the Association of Automobile Producers in Romania (ACAROM). Part of the employees will return to work immediately after Easter to resume the production of car parts, so that the production of automobiles can start as well from May 4.
- Colliers survey: Office market in RO won’t recover this year: Nearly 70% of owners and tenants on the Romanian office space market believe that the COVID-19 epidemic will continue to hamper their activity throughout this year. The first signs of recovery are expected in 2021, according to a study by real estate consultancy firm Colliers International among 60 owners and over 100 tenants.
- The 65 malls active on the Romanian market will reach losses of about 100 million euros from the rents not collected two months after the lockdown decided by the authorities on March 22, reads an analysis drawn by Economica.net.
- Construction work volume in Romania up 34% in Jan-Feb: The volume of construction work in Romania increased by 34.3% in the first two months of this year, compared to last year, according to the statistics office INS. The sector is expected to show higher resilience than other industries during the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, a significant number of employees in construction have lost their jobs amid the COVID-19 epidemic.
- Rockwool’s operations in RO only “moderately affected”: Danish Rockwool Group, a world leader in basaltic mineral wool production, does not plan to stop its activity in Romania amid the COVID-19 crisis. Layoffs or salary cuts are out of the discussion at present for the company’s 170 employees.
- Virgil Popescu, on the effects of the American oil crisis in Romania: Prices will drop at the pump: The low oil price on American markets is a bad sign for the global economy, says Economy Minister Virgil Popescu. In a telephone intervention at Digi24, the Minister of Economy pointed out that while Romania is a net crude oil importer, domestic oil production at the wells is not affected, as the Petromidia refinery is undergoing a scheduled turnaround and for a month and a half a lot of oil is consumed from domestic production. Short-term it will not affect us, Popescu said. From the Ministry’s point of view the fuel price drop is not necessarily a good thing for the economy, as it shows that there is low market demand and that the economy is not working. Fuel consumption already dropped by about 30% in Romania, Popescu pointed out. Romanian oil companies Petrom and Rompetrol Well Services opened Tuesday’s trading session on the Bucharest Stock Exchange in the red, despite international oil prices recovering, the investors seeing the event in the U.S. as a sign of a prolonged crisis.