Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania

  • 17,712 cases of COVID-19 in Romania, 127 new ones, casualties mount to 1,159: There are 17,712 cases of the novel coronavirus in Romania on Friday, with 127 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, which means the number of infections is on decline. The death toll associated to COVID-19 mounted to 1,159. Among the total number of infected people, 10,777 recovered and were discharged from hospitals. There are also less patients in intensive care, 200, compared to the previous days. To date, 352,647 tests have been processed at the national level.
  • Bucharest City Hall launches COVID-19 testing program for 11,000 volunteers: Bucharest residents can volunteer to get tested for the new coronavirus (COVID-19) within a free campaign of the Bucharest City Hall. They can register on the online platform testampentrubucuresti.assmb.ro starting Friday, May 22, at 13:00, according to Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea. “In May, we proposed this project through which 11,000 Bucharest residents can benefit from free testing for infection with the new coronavirus. The capital thus joins other major European metropolises that already apply the principle of extensive testing, also promoted by the World Health Organization,” Firea said, adding that Real-Time PCR tests will be used in this project.
  • The first plasma-treated patient was cured of COVID-19: The first plasma-treated patient at Galati County Hospital was cured of COVID-19. The 46-year-old man received plasma enriched with antibodies from two people who were cured of coronavirus. Two tests confirmed that he no longer had COVID-19, but his condition remained severe due to lung and kidney damage.
  • New outbreak of coronavirus at a hospital in Iasi: Although the number of coronavirus cases has decreased nation-wide, ten medical staff from the Neurosurgery Hospital in Iasi were confirmed with COVID-19. Staff testing was done after a nurse was diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
  • At least 47 Romanians working in a slaughterhouse in Dissen, Germany, infected with COVID-19: At least 47 of Romanian citizens working in a slaughterhouse in Dissen, Lower Saxony in Germany are infected with the novel coronavirus, the Romanian Foreign Ministry reported. Meanwhile Romanian Labor Minister Violeta Alexandru claims that from next year the German meat industry will no longer work through subcontractors.
  • Romanian researchers develop app to help reduce coronavirus spread: A team of Romanian researchers has developed an app meant to minimize the spread of the coronavirus, Adevarul reported. Called CovTrack, the app allows users to keep track of those they have come in contact with, including those later confirmed with COVID-19.
  • MAE: 306 Romanian citizens on cruise ships in North America repatriated: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) on Thursday morning informed that 306 Romanian citizens and 6 foreign – members of their families – who worked on cruise ships in North America and The Caribbean. Furthermore, MAE said that between 21 and 24 May, seven flights from European states will be organised in order to return to the country Romanian citizens who are temporary abroad and who were affected by the measures restricting air traffic, adopted in the context of managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • INSP does not recommend chemical spraying of sidewalks and streets: Spraying or fumigating outdoor spaces with disinfectants – such as streets, sidewalks, walkways or squares – is not recommended to remove or inactivate SARS-CoV-2 or other pathogens. Streets and sidewalks are not considered routes of infection for COVID-19, the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) pointed out.
  • Bucharest designates 7 areas downtown to become exclusively for pedestrians on weekends in order to reduce congestion in parks. The measure applies throughout the state of alert.

 

 

Political and regulatory

 

  • PM Orban, haulers’ officials discuss assistance for hauling sector: On Thursday, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban had talks with officials of the Federation of Romanian Haulage Operators on how to conduct the haulage business in compliance with the health safety rules established as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures to assist the sector. The FORT officials underscored the need for the government to get involved in the next period so that haulage can take place smoothly.
  • DefMin Ciuca says Romania should steer more of its defence spending into local industry: Romania’s defence spending of two percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for ten years should be found increasingly more in investments in the Romanian industry, in modern production facilities and highly qualified jobs created in the country, National Defence Minister Nicolae Ciuca said on Thursday.  “We have made available to the Ministry of Economy, the government institution that coordinates the defence industry and with which we have an excellent collaboration, the 10-year projection of our acquisition plans and the funding of these programs, so that business operators active in this sector can adjust their development strategies for the requirements and acquisitions of our armed forces,” Ciuca said at a meeting with representatives of the Alliance of Trade Unions of the Defence and Aeronautical Industry (ASIAA).
  • Official Bolos: On June 4 we start distributing corporal hygiene packs and on June 15 food packs: Minister of European Funds Marcel Bolos on Thursday informed that within the Government meeting they will approve the emergency ordinance that regulates the system of distribution of hygiene products packs and food packs to vulnerable persons. On June 4 the authorities will start the distribution of corporal hygiene packs and on June 15 of food packs, Bolos said in the beginning of the Government meeting. Bolos underscored that distribution will start in the counties that are the most affected by the crisis generated by the novel coronavirus.
  • 2.3 million people from disadvantaged groups will be granted protective masks by gov’t decision: The government has approved the granting of protection masks for 2.3 million people from disadvantaged categories, Health Minister Nelu Tataru announced on Thursday night, at the end of the gov’t meeting. He stated that 50 protection masks each will be granted to persons in disadvantaged categories for a period of two months.
  • Prime Minister Orban does not seem to agree with the exceptions introduced by Health Minister Nelu Tataru: The joint order elaborated by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior, which stipulates the conditions and exceptions for wearing a protective mask, was not published at this time in the Official Gazette, almost 48 hours after the announcement made by Minister Nelu Tataru. Without publication in the Official Gazette, the measures communicated by the authorities may not be applied, either as regards protective masks or in the case of epidemiological triage. According to government sources, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban did not agree with the exceptions mentioned in the Order, regarding the wearing of protective masks, which is why the measures will be re-discussed. The order stipulated exceptions, such as for employees alone in offices, persons suffering from oxigenation conditions, TV hosts, publc speakers, students, and children of up to 5 years old.
  • Gheorghe Cojanu is new Prefect of Bucharest by gov’t decision: The government has decided to appoint Gheorghe Cojanu as Prefect of the municipality of Bucharest, announced on Thursday evening the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Ionel Danca.  “Several government decisions have been adopted for the removal from office and appointments of prefects or subprefects. Of these, I mention the government decision for the appointment of the Prefect of Bucharest in the person of Mr. Gheorghe Cojanu. Also, several subprefects were appointed at the level of Calarasi, Ialomia, Iasi, Ilfov and Olt counties,” Danca said, at the end of the government meeting.
  • PM Orban: Starting today, the Belina island will be under state management: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Thursday informed that the Belina island and Pavel arm of the Danube will be managed again by the Romanian state, as soon as the takeover procedures will be completed by the Romanian Waters Company. “I have good news to give you: after a long period of time during which the Belina island and the Pavel arm were handled by the friends in Teleorman of the PSD [Social Democratic Party] and of Dragnea [former PSD leader] will be managed by the Romanian state again. Today we are signing the documents by which the Belina island and the Pavel arm will be taken over by the Romanian Waters Company. The handover process will be carried out by leaving aside the agreements concluded by the County Council with that particular beneficiary that you know very well – Tel Drum,” said the Prime Minister, in the beginning of the Government meeting. “We are waiting for the government resolution so that we should close this sad chapter when the red barons tried to turn state properties into their own estate”, Ludovic Orban stated, in what appears to be a political statement advertising the undoing of wrongful dealings of the PSD. The scandal is also tied to former PM Victor Ponta, who claimed at that time to have unknowingly signed a decision that benefited TelDrum company, allegedly controlled by former PSD head Liviu Dragnea.
  • Ioan Buda steps down as head of Romanian Border Police: Ioan Buda on Thursday tendered his resignation from the position of inspector general of the Romanian Border Police, for personal reasons, according to a press statement released on Thursday by the General Inspectorate of Border Police (IGPF). Meanwhile, in the context of agglomeration at western borders, Hungary announced opening all border crossing points with Romania.
  • Official Arafat: Temperature measurements in enclosed public spaces bring more fake news generating disunion: Secretary of state with the MAI (Ministry of Interior) Raed Arafat on Thursday stated that the measurement of temperature upon the entry into enclosed public spaces, shops, buildings of public institutions or economic operators represents “more fake news” generating “disunion” and that “minimizes” the effects and risk of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Meanwhile, businessman Viorel Cataramă has urged the Ombudsman to challenge at CCR the law on the state of alert by which Romanians are forced to wear masks and accept thermal scanning at the stores’ entrances.
  • PSD’s Ciolacu: PNL didn’t understand that real partnership between citizen, authorities is needed: Interim Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Marcel Ciolacu stated on Thursday that, not even now, did the National Liberal Party (PNL) understand that “endless restrictions and limitations” do not represent a solution during the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and that a real partnership between the citizen and authorities is needed, and not “a whip.” He added that “political arrogance has spoken,” and the PNL Gov’t wasn’t interested in any of the areas where they could find a partner of dialogue.
  • Romanian reformist block USR-PLUS to join Liberal Government after elections: “Normally and predictably,” the Romanian reformist alliance USR-PLUS will form the ruling coalition with the (currently ruling) National Liberal Party (PNL), after the parliamentary elections, USR president Dan Barna said in an interview for Digi24. However, the dialogue between PNL and USR has been increasingly difficult lately. The leaders of the two parties have been attacking each other almost daily in the Parliament, Digi24.ro commented.
  • Logging banned on 38,000-ha of secular forests in Romania: Over 38,000 hectare of virgin forests, older than 140 years, will be transferred from the production area to the protection status, Romanian Environment minister Costel Alexe has announced on Friday.
  • Romanian Green Party (PER) accuses parliament of betraying national interests and asks President Klaus Iohannis to take a stance regarding the amendments brought to the law intended to promote Romanian products, from Romanian farms. PER points out that several “Romanian” product mentions were eliminated from Law no. 28/2020 and that most amendments disadvantage local producers.
  • The Minister of Labor announces that payments of 2.4 billion lei have been made for technical unemployment, for 1.5 million employees and professionals: the Minister of Labor, Violeta Alexandru, announced on Friday that payments for technical unemployment were made in the amount of 2.4 billion lei from which 1.5 million employees benefited. She appeals to employers to pay their employees, reminding them that they have a deadline to transfer them to them within three days of receiving the amounts, News.ro reported. She also specified that the Labor Inspectorate will check for possible abuses during this period.
  • Meeting to assess the economic situation in the context of the crisis generated by the pandemic, convened by Iohannis: President Klaus Iohannis convened on Friday, at the Cotroceni Palace, a meeting to assess the economic situation in the context of the crisis generated by the COVID-19 epidemic, attended by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, the governor of the National Bank of Romania and the Minister of Finance, according to News.ro.

 

Impact on the economy

  • FinMin Citu says 152k bank clients benefit so far from installment deferral: As many as 152,000 customers of the financial-banking system have so far benefited from the provisions of Ordinance 37 on deferral of installments and the total loans with postponed installments up to 9 months is about 3.3 billion lei, according to Finance Minister Florin Citu. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, Finance Minister Florin Citu and the head of the Prime Minister’s Chancellery, Ionel Danca, met Friday morning with representatives of the Romanian Association of Banks (ARB), addressing the SME Invest programme, the deferral of bank installments and the economic recovery programme, according to the Finance Minister. Citu stressed, in context, that a large part of the programmes to be implemented by the authorities depend on the proper functioning of the partnership with the financial-banking system and the latter’s health. “We have also discussed the programme to relaunch the economy because we know that economic recovery is carried out through the partnership with the financial-banking system. Money in the economy goes not just from the government. The way the Government transmits money to the economy is also done through the financial-banking system. And the banking system has the expertise and also has the channels to transfer this money to the performing sectors. That is why many of the programmes we will implement in the future depend on the functioning of this partnership and the health of the financial-banking system. The programme for the large companies, which last night was at a first reading in the Government meeting, will need the support of the financial-banking system. A very good meeting that has never taken place before at this level,” the minister was quoted as saying.
  • EconMin Popescu: Government approves emergency ordinance to support large energy consumers: The government approved an emergency ordinance on Thursday to support large energy consumers, this being an amendment to the ordinance that allowed the support of 15 branches of industry, said on Thursday the Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, Virgil Popescu, at the end of the government meeting. “Today we have approved an emergency ordinance on supporting large energy consumers. It is an amendment to ordinance 81 approved last December. An ordinance that allowed the support of 15 branches of industry. I repeat, the Romanian producers who have direct employees and indirectly over 100,000 employees, where there is a very high risk of relocation. I remind you, and I do not want this to be forgotten, that by Ordinance 114 the PSD [the Social Democratic Party] government practically blew up the electricity and natural gas market, and the price of electricity went up a lot, thus greatly reducing the competitiveness of the Romanian industry. In fact, large companies such as Sidex Galati, Alro Slatina and many others have found themselves unable to cope with the pressure of electricity prices,” said Popescu. The Minister of Economy emphasized that the state scheme he proposed in December 2019 was approved by the European Commission
  • ACAROM named association of public utility: Romania’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ACAROM) was named association of public utility under a decision adopted at the government’s Thursday meeting. “The government, at the proposal of the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, adopted the Decision on the recognition of ACAROM’s public utility. In line with its powers, the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment coordinates the Interministerial Committee on Competitiveness, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of the National Competitiveness Strategy. In its capacity as competent managing authority, the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment looked at the Association’s request and proposed to the Romanian government, through this draft, the recognition of the Association as a public utility entity,” the Ministry of Economy said in a release.
  • Romania’s regulator body plans to auction 5G licenses in Q4: Romania’s telecom regulator ANCOM will adopt in the third quarter of this year the documentation for the 5G tender. The institution thus estimates it will grant the licenses for the additional 5G spectrum in the fourth quarter of this year, said ANCOM vice president Eduard Lovin.
  • Romanians would go to local seaside resorts this summer, but they want hotels to take safety measures: More than 78% of the respondents to a survey conducted in May by online travel agency Litoralulromanesc.ro said that they want to return to Romanian seaside resorts this summer. Still, they want hotel operators to take safety precautions. “The special measures taken by hotel owners represent the most important criterion for tourists planning a vacation at the seaside, most of them saying that the installation of disinfectant dispensers, the wearing of masks by staff and the disinfection of children’s playgrounds would make them feel safe,” reads the survey quoted by News.ro.
  • Romania’s maximum 2020 wheat production, only 5-5.5 million tonnes: Romania’s maximum 2020 wheat production this year could reach 5-5.5 million tonnes, as against a good year’s 7 to 9 million tonnes, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Adrian Oros said Friday. Asked about the export of cereals in this context, Oros responded that “export is a concern, but it is the last concern of the ministry.” He said that they are trying to restart the pressure stations and introduce water on the canals.
  • ICR head on efforts to promote Romanian values online, optimistic about return to live events in fall: Acting president of the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR) Mirel Talos is optimistic that the events scheduled for this fall will be organised live, remarking the Institute’s capacity to adapt during the pandemic and diversify the online promotion of Romanian intellectual values.
  • Rules to be imposed on customers on the terraces of restaurants and bars: Mask only in certain areas: Tables on the terraces of restaurants and bars must be placed at a distance of at least 2 meters from each other, with a free aisle between them of 1.5 meters with chairs, customers will be required to wear a protective mask only in certain areas, not at the table, and the number of customers at a table will be limited to 6-8 people, are the final rules set by the Romanian Restaurant Association (HORA) with the Government. The rules are to be launched immediately, said Dragoș Petrescu, general secretary of HORA and owner of the City Grill restaurant chain.