Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- 8th day with over 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases in Romania: There have been 1,182 new cases of COVID-19 infections reported in Romania in the past 24 hours out of 22,049 processed tests. Separately from the new confirmed cases, 643 persons who tested positive before have retested positive. At the same time, 30 deaths have been reported in the past day. The number of patients at intensive care also increased to 377, setting a new record. The statistics now also include how many patients retested positive per county. Notably, in the top of counties by number of COVID-19 infections, Bucharest ranks 1st with 5,500 total cases, followed by Suceava – 4,472, Arges – 3,009, Brasov – 2,933 and Galati – 1,995. Shortly behind are Prahova County – 1,795, Dambovita County – 1,766 and Vrancea County – 1,670. In terms of daily new case increases however, Prahova County ranks 1st, with 101 new cases in the last 24 hours, followed by Arges with 98, Dambovita with 84, and Bucharest with 75.
- Coronavirus at the Honeywell factory in Lugoj, Timiş county: Several employees of the Honeywell factory in Lugoj, Timiş county (at least five) have been confirmed as being infected with the new coronavirus, informs Opinia Timişoarei local newspaper. They were tested in a private healthcare network. The factory has over 1,000 employees. By Tuesday, in Timis county, there 7 outbreaks of coronavirus confirmed, in several hospitals, localities and companies, including at the Smithfield meat processing plant (174 confirmed cases).
- Private healthcare clinic Regina Maria reacts after the CFR Cluj football club complained that 23 of its tests were found to be false-positive: The Regina Maria healthcare network informs that it has started a thorough investigation of the processes that were the basis of the COVID test results, after CFR Cluj complained that 23 people from the football club were found to be false-positive and a week later they were found to be negative. An external audit was also initiated with Abbott, the American manufacturer of the equipment on which the samples were processed, to validate the procedures and the entire testing process.
Political and regulatory
- New coronavirus prevention rules in Romania: Masks compulsory in crowded outdoor venues: The Emergency Situations Committee, led by prime minister Ludovic Orban, outlined on Tuesday, July 29, a new set of rules aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. As such, wearing a mask becomes compulsory in crowded outdoor public venues, at certain hours. The venues and hours will be determined by the county committees for emergency situations, depending on the number of people present in a particular venue at a certain time. According to the same rules, outdoor restaurants will be closed between 23:00 and 06:00. Outside of this time frame, restaurant owners need to implement measures regarding limiting the number of clients that can be seated and activities “that entail physical interaction between clients, including dancing.” Gambling halls would also close between 23:00 and 06:00. On beaches, only couples and children, accompanied by adults (parents, grandparents), can sit less than 2 meters apart. The rules are to be approved in the Government meeting scheduled for Wednesday, July 29, from 18:00. “We are still analyzing, we are still discussing,” Orban replied, when asked if he would adopt the measures in the Government meeting exactly as they were announced by CNSU. “So nothing closes! After 23:00, certain activities, where there is usually a risk of transmitting the virus after 23:00, will be closed. What are analyzing if these would apply at country-level or area-level, for example at the seaside, in Bucharest, in counties where there is a high spread level. This is what we analyze”, Ludovic Orban added. Meanwhile, Damovita County is the second county after Arges to announce mask wearing in all open public spaces, throughout the day, starting Thursday, July 30. The local authorities motivated their decision for being a “red” county with many infections.
- Romanian PM to deliver report on pandemic in Parliament: Romanian prime minister Ludovic Orban has confirmed that he would show up in Parliament next Monday to deliver a report on the measures to manage the coronavirus pandemic as well as regarding the scenarios envisaged for opening schools and holding local elections, News.ro reported. The president of the Chamber of Deputies Marcel Ciolacu announced on Monday, July 27, that, together with the interim head of the Senate Robert Cazanciuc, he invited PM Orban to Parliament to explain the measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the chief of the Executive should show the country “a detailed plan for managing the pandemic, starting school and holding elections.”
- RO lawmakers pass law entitling them to set general election calendar: Romania’s Chamber of Deputies adopted on Monday, July 27, as a decision-making body, the draft law that stipulates that the Parliament sets the date of the parliamentary elections – as opposed to the Government under existing legislation, local daily Adevarul reported.
- PSD’s Ciolacu: Orban gov’t falls at censure motion, pretty sure USR will vote on it: The Acting president of the opposition’s Social Democratic Party (PSD), Marcel Ciolacu, said on Tuesday night at the public television TVR1, he was convinced that the Ludovic Orban Government would be dismissed through a censure motion, claiming that the Save Romania Union (USR) too would vote on such a document. “(…) Who in the political forces now can afford not to vote for the censure motion?! I am firmly convinced that the USR will vote for it too,” Ciolacu said pointing out that there were 202 votes from the PSD for the motion. He mentioned that he had discussions with Victor Ponta regarding the filing of the no confidence vote. Ciolacu said that if the censure motion clears the Parliament, a proposal for a prime minister will be made. “We will go with a proposal for prime minister after we discuss with the other political forces that will vote on the motion and with an economic project for a limited period of time,” he said. Meanwhile, UDMR President Kelemen Hunor announced that the political party will not sign the motion of censure, which he sees as inopportune in a time of crisis.
- Meeting between Defense Minister – Head of NATO Special Operations Headquarters: The Minister of Defense, Nicolae Ciuca, and the head of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Daniel Petrescu, had, on Tuesday, a meeting with Lieutenant General Eric P. Wendt, commander of the NATO Special Operations Headquarters. According to a release sent to AGERPRES by the Ministry of National Defence (MApN), the agenda of discussions included current subjects of the North Atlantic Alliance, with emphasis on allied efforts in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis, the three officials reviewing the main missions taking place.
- Gov’t will attempt to double children’s allowances in very short time: The Minister of Finance, Florin Citu, has stated on Tuesday evening at private broadcaster B1 TV that the Executive will try to double the allowances for children in a very short time, given that it will be an increase between 15 and 20 pct on August 1, followed by a more substantial one, from January 1, 2021 and another the following year.
- FinMin: I’d say budgetary deficit is reasonable, considering economic context we go through: The budget deficit in the first six months of this year is reasonable in the economic context we are going through and if we also look at what is happening in the rest of Europe, Finance Minister Florin Citu said on Tuesday evening at the private broadcaster B1 TV. On the other hand, he admitted that it is a large deficit and, therefore, a half-year spending revaluation must be carried out and seen what can be postponed for the years to come. The implementation of the consolidated general budget in the first six months of 2020 registered a deficit of 45.17 billion RON (4.17 pct of GDP). Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Wednesday that the budget deficit is worrisome and all spending increase must be handled with caution.
- Klaus Iohannis, meeting at Cotroceni with the Orban government ministers on European funds: President Klaus Iohannis will meet on Wednesday at Cotroceni Palace with Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and several ministers for talks on European funds, the Presidential Administration announced. The meeting starts at 14:30.
- Orban: The pressure for information about the opening of schools is the result of PSD’s demagogic initiative. When we make the decision, we will announce: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said that the scenarios for the new school year are still under analysis and stressed that the pressure to provide this information is related to the “demagogic” initiative of PSD, which called on him to present plans for the pandemic, the school and the elections. “We have set up an inter-ministerial working group that is preparing all the scenarios, depending on the epidemiological situation. When we will have enough elements, we will communicate them publicly.
- HealthMin Tataru: Restrictions to be applied where necessary; we have outbreaks right now: Minister of Health Nelu Tataru on Tuesday evening said in the following days a series of measures will be taken in the following days to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tataru said the proposals included in the decision of the National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) will be transposed “into a government decision, which refers to some indications or restrictions to be applied by the county committees for emergency situations where they are needed and where we truly have ongoing outbreaks.” He added the local authorities and the managers of the beaches will be the ones in charge with applying the restrictions, while the MAI (Ministry of Interior) employees will only verify if the measures are being observed.
- ForMin Aurescu underscores need to stimulate economic exchanges and mutual investments with Poland: Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu on Tuesday received the agreed Ambassador of the Polish Republic in Bucharest, Maciej Lang, who presented his credentials, on which occasion the two officials reviewed the excellent stage of the bilateral relation of a strategic partnership between the two countries. The Romanian official also hailed the strengthened cooperation with Poland in developing the Three Seas Initiative, and he showed that, considering the current global context and the need for an economic relaunch, the Initiative can have a positive impact on the stimulation of the economy and implementation of the connectivity projects. In his turn, Ambassador Maciej Lang also voiced his satisfaction for the very good relations of strategic partnership existing between the two states and showed that the objective of his mandate is to give more substance to the cooperation between Romania and Poland, both in terms of security and defence, and also in other fields of common interest such as energy.
- HealthMin Tataru says 2020, one of ambulance service’s most difficult years: 2020 is probably one of the most difficult years for Romania’s ambulance service since its establishment, Health Minister Nelu Tataru said Tuesday in a message on National Ambulance Day.
- ALDE requests dismissal of Bucharest Public Health Directorate’s leadership: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Bucharest is publicly requesting clarifications from the health minister on the testing of employees and residents of elderly people’s care homes in the last two months.
- Romanian lawmakers pass legislation limiting trans-fat content in food products: The Chamber of Deputies passed on Tuesday, July 28, the legislative project aimed at limiting the content of trans-unsaturated fatty acids in food products. The legislation was proposed by Save Romania Union (USR) senator Adrian Wiener. The Chamber of Deputies is the deciding body on this project. The legislation is to come into force on April 1, 2021.
- Culture Minister: If infections do not decrease in number, show halls and cinemas will remain closed: If the daily figures regarding infections with the novel coronavirus do not record a decrease, show halls and cinemas will remain closed even in September, said Culture Minister, Bogdan Gheorghiu, in an interview granted to AGERPRES.
Impact on the economy
- Austria’s OMV wins EUR 59 mln case against Romania in international court: Austrian’s OMV group, which controls Romanian oil and gas group OMV Petrom, has won a lawsuit against Romania’s Environment Ministry filed at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris (ICC), according to the group’s quarterly report. The ICC’s Arbitral Tribunal ruled on July 9 that Romania must pay EUR 59 million worth of compensation plus related interest (unspecified amount) to OMV Petrom. The sum represents the value of well decommissioning and environmental remediation works supported by OMV Petrom, which the company should have recovered from the Romanian state, according to the privatization contract. OMV Petrom, the main Romanian oil company, has obtained in the first half of this year a net profit of 867 million RON, by 56 pct less than in the similar period of last year, according to the half-year report sent, on Wednesday, to AGERPRES.
- OMV Petrom: Black Sea gas can help Romania’s economic recovery, yet offshore law delayed: Black Sea gas can help Romania’s post-pandemic economic recovery, but changes to the Offshore Law are delayed, which erodes the economic foundation of this project, said OMV Petrom CEO Christina Verchere in an interview with AGERPRES.
- Romania reports “smaller than planned” public deficit in H1: Romania’s public deficit in the first half of the year (H1) soared to RON 45.1 billion (EUR 9.4 bln), 126% more than in the same period last year. The deficit to GDP ratio rose to 4.2% of GDP from 1.9% in H1 last year. “More than half of the deficit, namely RON 23 bln or 2.13% of GDP, represents the amounts left in the economy through fiscal facilities and exceptional expenditures adopted to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic,” the Finance Ministry said in a press release. For the whole of 2020, the Government envisages a 6.7%-of-GDP budget deficit. The H1 deficit is smaller than planned, finance minister Florin Citu said on July 27, just before the official release, Agerpres reported.
- RO Govt. to guarantee bank loans for Tarom, Blue Air: Romania’s Government will complete the notification procedure related to the state aid extended to the two airline operators Tarom (state-owned) and Blue Air (private) by the end of July. The Transport Ministry announced this after the latest round of talks with representatives of the two companies on July 27.
- Owners of RO investment fund ROCA pour EUR 6.3 mln into it: Romanian investment and management platform for troubled companies ROCA Investments said its shareholders operated a RON 30.4 million (EUR 6.3 mln) capital increase. The objective of ROCA Investments is to take Romanian companies to the next level while supporting them to overcome this difficult period for the Romanian economy, caused by the pandemic.
- Romania’s insurance market up 8.8% in Q1: The volume of gross written premiums on Romania’s insurance market (general and life) rose to RON 2.96 billion (EUR 622 million) in the first quarter of the year, 8.8% more than in the same period last year. The general insurance segment increased by 9.2% to RON 2.34 billion (EUR 493 mln). The leader of this segment, City Insurance, increased its share to 23% after its revenues rose by 20.5% to RON 540 mln (EUR 114 mln). The leader of the life insurance segment is NN Life Insurance.
- Romania’s biggest office owner aims to raise EUR 1.5 bln in medium-term notes: Globalworth, the largest owner of office buildings in Romania, wants to launch a EUR 1.5 billion issue under its Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) Program. The notes will be sold on the Dublin Stock Exchange.
- Sotheby’s International Realty enters Romanian market: Sotheby’s International Realty, a luxury real estate brand launched by the Sotheby’s Auction House, officially entered the Romanian market on July 28, through a partnership with Artmark Historical Estate. The partnership will help promote historical and luxury real estate properties in Romania to international investors.
- New office and hotel projects in the pipeline on Bucharest’s Calea Victoriei following EUR 300 M investments: Calea Victoriei in Bucharest, the 2.8-kilometer-long artery between Piața Victoriei and Piața Națiunilor Unite, will continue to grow as an office and hotel hub in the upcoming years, with the developers’ plans to build seven new office buildings and six hotels as a result of investments that could exceed the 300 million euros threshold, according to an analysis of Cushman & Wakefield Echinox real estate consulting company.