Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- Coronavirus cases rise to almost 17,600 in Romania: Romania reported 198 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 17,585 on Thursday, May 21, at 13:00, the authorities announced. Of the confirmed cases, 10,581 patients were declared cured and discharged from the hospital. At the same time, 1,151 Covid-19 patients died. By May 21, 342,466 tests had been carried out at a national level.
Political and regulatory
- PM: Gov’t to cover 41.5% of the gross salaries of employees who will resume activity after June 1. Furlough to go on for the sectors under restrictions: PM Ludovic Orban has announced several measures to help the economy during the current state of alert. Orban said that furlough will continue for those sectors under restrictions, as for the employees in the fields that will resume activity after June 1 the Government will pay 41.5% of their gross salaries. At the same time, the Executive intends to pay 30% of the gross salaries to companies that will be hiring for a period of three months. PM Ludovic Orban said that pensions will increase, but only a very serious analysis, after there is the guarantee they can be paid. PM Orban also announced that Romania will benefit of EUR 3 to 5 billion from the European Union, as a result of the approval by the Council of the EU of regulation on the SURE programme.
- Parliament approves state of alert: Parliament on Wednesday passed a decision approving the establishment of a state of alert in Romania, 372 to 37 and seven abstentions. The lawmakers also amended the initial form of the government decision. Some main changes include keeping hospital management changes in the responsibility of local authorities (thus securing PSD-appointed managers), providing free masks to disadvantaged persons and families, and that “the unfolding of museum, library, show/concert organizers, cinema or film production studios activity as well as open-air cultural or festival events is carried out in accordance to the conditions jointly established by order of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Culture based on Law 55 on the state of alert within 5 days of the adoption of the present decision”. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Wednesday stated that, by end-day on Thursday all ministries will adopt common orders regarding the rules to be observed in each field of activity during the state of alert established in response to the novel coronavirus epidemic. He also said temperature measurement is necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Chief emergency management official Raed Arafat said on Wednesday that ministerial orders are being drafted Arafat added that measures are planned at the level of several sectors, especially health, but also transport, economy, and other areas on which the novel coronavirus pandemic has an impact. He requested that the proposal to amend the government decision under consideration be abandoned and the document be reversed to its original form.
- Authorities dismiss conspiracy theories and fake news about thermal imaging, facemasks: Amid conspiracy theories against thermal imaging and criticism against wearing facemasks during the current state of alert in Romania, local authorities came out to make clear these tools are mandatory to keep the epidemic under control and prevent the spread of the virus. The first fines against citizens who broke the rules have been applied. According to the Strategic Communication Group, almost 130 sanctions amounting to RON 71,000 have been applied in the past 24 hours. The head of the Emergency Situations Department (DSU), Dr. Raed Arafat, said on Wednesday that all state institutions and volunteer groups are trying to combat the false ideas spread on social media about the COVID-19 pandemic.
- PM Orban, video conference with Polish PM Morawiecki; Polish Development Fund model presented: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban had a meeting on Thursday, in a videoconference system, with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, occasion on which the Polish Development Fund model was presented, with the talks on this topic to be continued at the level of expert teams of Romania and Poland. In this context, also discussed was “the possibility to organise the next joint Government meeting, by the end of this year,” depending on the development of the epidemiological situation.
- Depending on epidemic evolution, terraces may reopen, outdoor shows could be resumed as of June 1: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Wednesday evening on the private television broadcaster Realitatea Plus that terraces could be reopened and outdoor shows could be resumed as of June 1. “Activities where there is a limited risk of the virus spreading could be resumed. I give you two examples. The terraces. They are outdoors, but with some very thought-out safeguards. Outdoor shows could be resumed. And with a limited number of spectators,” Orban said.
- Several sports competitions to resume simultaneously in Romania: Minister for Youth and Sport Ionut Stroe told AGERPRES on Thursday that there will not be just one sport where competitions will be resumed in the first phase, but several, having so far received requests for football, cycling, motoring and motorcycling. However, he specified that the resumption of sports competitions depends on the developments in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- Humanitarian mission for Lithuania: 20,000 FFP2 protection masks: The General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations has provided Lithuania with a transport of 20,000 FFP2 protection masks, in support of teams involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of a humanitarian mission to assist countries facing the novel coronavirus.
- USR’s Nasui: State should scrap minimum wage tax: Chairman of the Save Romania Union (USR) Bucharest branch Claudiu Nasui welcomes the government’s plans to cover between 35 and 41.5 percent of the gross wage for every employee who returns to work, but considers that the measure should be broadened in the form of a tax exemption for the minimum wage.
- PM: I was “stunned” by the decision of so-called National Council for Combating Discrimination: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Wednesday that he was “stunned” when he saw the decision of the National Council for Combating Discrimination regarding President Klaus Iohannis,” because the PSD-UDMR (Social Democratic Party – Democratic Union of Hungarians of Romania) majority” took a decision that “had nothing to do with the law and the sanctioning regime” for discrimination. The Presidential Administration said that the CNCD decision is a “deeply political one,” and announced that president Iohannis would challenge it in court, according to Digi24. Meanwhile UDMR President Kelemen Hunor deemed it a fair decision, its message being important.
- PM tells environmental NGOs that he supports the idea of managing protected areas together: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Wednesday told the environmental NGOs he held consultations with that he supports the idea of joint management of the protected areas by the public authorities and the associative environment. The head of Executive and Minister of Environment Costel Alexe underscored that, in implementing the European Green Deal in Romania, the Government relies on the expertise of the environmental NGOs.
- DNA opens 33 cases in connection with medical acquisitions made during the pandemic: DNA chief prosecutor Crin Bologa announced on Thursday that anti-corruption prosecutors have registered 33 cases in connection with the awarding of health procurement contracts during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The president of the Neamţ County Council announces that he has dismissed the manager of the County Hospital, “owner of a funeral services company”, who was recently appointed by the Minister of Health. Management is provided by the military doctor Silviu Dan Verzea
Impact on the economy
- EC: Romania should still fix excessive deficit by 2022: The European Commission on May 20 recommended Romania to take action, in 2020 and 2021, and pursue fiscal policies in line with the EU Council’s recommendations of April 3. Romania should fix its excessive deficit by 2022, according to the EC’s annual recommendations to the 27 Member States, called the European Semester. The recommendations come in response to the 2020 National Reform Programme and the 2020 Convergence Programme submitted by Romania on May 8 and May 14, respectively – not yet published by the Government.
- Greek Gov’t has put Romania on the list of countries allowed to send tourists to Greece this summer: Greek authorities have revealed the list of 19 states allowed to send tourists in Greece as of June 15 when the summer season starts, with Romania among them, according to greekcitytimes.com.
- AHK president: Total lockdown no longer an affordable option in event of second coronavirus wave: Romania’s economy could no longer afford another total lockdown in the event of a second wave of coronavirus infections, president of the Romanian – German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AHK) Dragos Anastasiu said on Thursday.
- RO president promulgates moratorium on rent payment: Romanian companies, freelancers, and individuals can defer the rent payments for their headquarters, work points, and homes for the duration of the state of emergency in the country plus another month, under a bill promulgated by president Klaus Iohannis, G4media.ro reported. To benefit from this facility, the companies and individuals will have to prove that their revenues declined by at least 15% in March compared to the monthly average, following the state of emergency.
- Companies in e-commerce, video communications, cloud platforms, telemedicine are medical crisis big winners (analysis): The economic effects at the sectorial level of the pandemic generated by COVID-19 have divided business into four categories, namely the essential services, the great winners, the losers and the survivors, among the great winners being companies in e-commerce, video communications, cloud platforms and telemedicine, claim the representatives of PwC Romania.
- Volume of parcels that entered Romania from EU countries doubled in first five months: The volume of cross-border deliveries increased by 75pct in the first five months of the year compared to the last months of 2019, while the volume of parcels that entered Romania from European Union countries doubled, the centralized data of Coletaria.ro published on Thursday reads.
- Number of employment contracts terminated in constructions since declaration of state of emergency exceeds 57,000: The number of employment contracts terminated in the constructions sector since the declaration of the state of emergency (March 16) and until Wednesday is 57,582, according to figures centralized by the Labour Inspectorate and published by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MMPS).
- FinMin: Any increase in guarantee ceiling for IMM Invest must be approved by European Commission: Any increase in the guarantee ceiling for the IMM Invest programme (meant for SMEs) must be approved by the European Commission because this program is a state aid scheme, according to the Minister of Finance, Florin Citu. Citu’s reaction was triggered by the adoption on Wednesday by the plenum of the Chamber of Deputies of the Emergency Ordinance on IMM Invest, modifying the normative act so that, for 2020, the total ceiling of guarantees that can be granted under the programme was increased from 15 billion lei to 30 billion lei.
- Drive-in type COVID-19 testing center opened in Bucharest: A drive-in COVID-19 RT-PCR testing center was opened on Thursday in Bucharest in the parking lot of the Băneasa Shopping City by OK Medical within the “Responsible Relaunch” campaign, and will serve anyone who wants such a test, without prior appointment. Prices are about 80 EUR.