Situation of COVID-19 cases in Romania
- 321 new cases confirmed in 24 hours, total reaches 10,417: Romania confirmed 321 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 10,417, according to official data released on Friday, April 24, 13:00. More than 2,800 confirmed patients were declared cured so far, while the death total has risen to 552, according to the same report. A total of 241 patients are currently admitted to intensive care units. By April 24, 121,602 tests were processed nationwide.
- Adrian Streinu-Cercel, sacked from the helm of the Health Ministry’s anti-COVID 19 scientific committee: Health Minister, Nelu Tătaru, has announced he had sacked Adrian Streinu Cercel, the manager of Matei Bals Institute, from the helm of the anti-COVID 19 scientific committee within the ministry. Adrian Streinu Cercel, the manager of Matei Bals Institute of Infectious Diseases, had proposed a controversial document, with severe restrictions for the elderly, even mentioning separating the elderly from their families.
Political and regulatory
- Hotels in Romania will reopen after May 15, PM says: The hotels in Romania will reopen after May 15, when Romania will start to ease the restrictions imposed during the state of emergency, prime minister Ludovic Orban said. However, the restaurants will remain closed, and the citizens will still have to respect some restrictions. He pointed out that hotels might open in single-room regime. Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announced on Friday measures that could be taken after easing the restrictions imposed during the state of emergency: If the activity is resumed in schools and universities, pupils and students will have to wear masks. Also, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there will be a triage of students and employees by checking their temperature before entering the building. The Technical-Scientific Support Group also discussed the reopening of parks, hotels, restaurants and cafes. He also said that thermal scanners could be used at airports not only on arrival but also on departure. Regarding the parks, the prime minister said that, if certain rules are followed, “they can be opened faster”. “If schools are opened, it is normal for the Government to provide masks for all students who do not have the possibility to purchase masks,”said Ludovic Orban.
- Orban: We do not want to enforce austerity policies: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban explained on Friday that technical unemployment for public sector employees is no longer relevant because, on the one hand, the state of emergency ends on May 15, and on the other that the situation was taken into account in which, in a family, both employees – one private and one at the state – would be affected by technical unemployment. It is not our intention to implement austerity policies, the prime minister said. Maintaining a demand at the highest level is a guarantee of economic recovery as soon as possible. The more income a person has, the more he will keeps his intention to buy, as soon as normal consumption resumes, and this is a positive sign for the economy, and will allow the resumption of many production activities, and services related to meeting people’s needs, said Ludovic Orban.
- Orban: Local elections may be organized in September: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban stated on Thursday that the local elections may be organized in September, if the first wave of the pandemic ceases by the start of July, and in the case of the parliamentary elections, which should take place in December, a high turnout can be ensured by introducing the vote by correspondence for residents of the country or the electronic vote. In regards to the parliamentary elections, Ludovic Orban said that the vote by correspondence may be included, including in the country, or the electronic vote.
- Deputies’ Chamber adopts draft law on the extension of mandate of local public authorities; PNL to challenge it: The Deputies’ Chamber has adopted at its plenary sitting the legislative proposal regarding the extension of the mandates of the local public authorities, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, by six months since the end of the state of emergency. The Deputies’ Chamber is the decision-making forum in this case after the project was adopted by the Senate on April 15.
- Romanian opposition announces new parliamentary majority to enforce economic strategy: Romania’s main opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (PSD), has created a “sufficient majority” in Parliament to promote a “coherent economic program,” PSD interim leader Marcel Ciolacu said on Thursday, local Agerpres reported. “We have created at this moment a sufficient majority to be able to come to the Parliament with a coherent economic program. We consider that the Government hasn’t come up with anything concrete,” Ciolacu said, suggesting that PNL is the only party that has different views than the rest of the parties in the Parliament.
- Romania bans export of logs outside EU for 10 years: Romania’s Chamber of Deputies adopted on Thursday a bill that prohibits the export of logs, with or without bark, outside the European Union, for a period of 10 years starting next year, Profit.ro reported. However, Romania’s exports of unprocessed logs amount to less than 1% of the country’s total exports of wood, according to data from the statistics office for 2018.
- Finance Minister: Budget under high pressure, but things look OK: The pressure on the budget is high, but not that massive, the state is paying its bills, the Sibiu – Pitesti motorway will be built this year and the metro line to the Drumul Taberei Bucharest quarter will also be completed this year, Public Finance Minister Florin Citu told public broadcaster TVR 1 on Thursday evening. He mentioned that the government raises loans to make sure that pensions, wages and bills are paid on time, but also in order to maintain investments in the economy.
- FinMin Citu: I’ll never agree that money from budget go to tax evaders: Public Finance Minister Florin Citu said on Thursday night on the public broadcaster TVR 1 that he would never agree that the money allocated from the state budget to support the economy should go to support “those who have done tax evasion, those who have taken advantage of the system”. As for the delay in loan rates, the Finance minister reiterated that “there is no interest on interest”. At the same time, Florin Citu assured that there is no problem with the payment of pensions, salaries and bills. The minister wanted to make it clear that the pension increase foreseen for September was included in the budget, but the evolution of the economy must be analyzed from week to week.
- PM Orban: furlough difficult to enforce, project falls completely, restructuring to be done out of necessity: The project of putting public employees on furlough was difficult to enforce, especially in certain areas where the fight against COVID-19 would have been affected, and this project “has fallen completely”, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban told private broadcaster B1 TV on Thursday evening. Orban added that there are some spending cuts from the budget. The premier stressed that he had discussed a policy “as severe as possible” regarding the unnecessary expenditure at the level of state-owned companies, considering that restructuring at their level will be a market-dictated necessity.
- PSD MEPs ask European Commission to ensure equal access of all EU states to post-coronavirus recovery instruments: PSD (Social Democratic Party) MEPs on Thursday asked the European Commission to ensure equal access of all European Union Member States to post-coronavirus recovery instruments.
- PM Orban: We must keep economic engine represented by investments at maximum speed: Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Thursday highlighted at the beginning of the Government meeting how important it is to continue to invest, while he was referring to both public investments and those made by companies under the coordination of the ministries, or those carried out by private companies. According to him, the Government has already developed a series of instruments meant to support the economic, such as the SME Invest Programme. He asked the Ministry of Development to increase the speed of the procedures in the public procurements field and to start investments as soon as possible.The head of the Executive also asked the ministries of economy and environment to speed up investments in their areas.
- Chamber passes ordinance extending easy terms to loan holders: At a plenary sitting on Thursday, the Chamber of Deputies passed – 208 to 103 and 8 abstentions – a government emergency ordinance OUG 37/2020 that extends easy repayment terms to holders of loans given by banks and non-banking financial institutions to certain categories of debtors.
- Chamber passes ordinance on taxation: At a plenary sitting on Thursday, the Chamber of Deputies passed a draft of Emergency Ordinance 33/2020 regarding some fiscal measures. “Taxpayers paying income tax, regardless of the declaration and payment system, taxpayers who pay income tax on micro-enterprises, who pay the tax due by the due dates, July 25, 2020 for the second quarter and October 25, 2020 for the third quarter, dates included, qualify for a 10% bonus calculated on the profit tax due,” according to the draft ordinance. The document also provides for the postponement of customs duties on imports of healthcare products, protective equipment, other medical devices and equipment and medical devices that may be used in the prevention, containment, treatment and control of COVID-19.
- President Iohannis calls for a review of the law on the suspension of individual employment contracts during a state of emergency: President Klaus Iohannis calls on Parliament to review the law establishing provisions on the suspension of individual employment contracts during a state of siege or emergency, for the period following their termination. The head of state points out that it should be designed so as not to overlap with the general presumption in the Labor Code. President Iohannis points out that, according to data released by the Ministry of Labor, on April 10, for example, of more than 1 million contracts suspended for reasons associated with the state of emergency, 86% were suspensions under the article of the Labor Code which provides that an individual employment contract may be suspended at the initiative of the employer in case of temporary interruption or reduction of activity, without termination of the employment relation, for economic, technological reasons, structural or similar.
- Finance Minister Florin Cîţu: ‘IMM Invest’ website will be launched next week: The website will be launched next week and it is very likely that it will be accessed by at least 4 million people in the first hour after its launch, he announced on Facebook.
Impact on the economy
- Romania is preparing to reopen after lockdown, but says its economy will never be the same again: “It’s clear we need to rethink our industrial production,” Economy Minister Virgil Popescu said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’ll focus on the sectors that were showing promising signs even before the crisis: energy, petrochemicals and defense.”
- Global sales of Romanian automobile brand Dacia fall by 40% in Q1: French automotive group Renault announced a drop of almost 26% in sales and nearly as much in revenues. Its Romanian subsidiary Dacia posted an even steeper decline of 40% in volume terms.
- Fitch changes outlook for Romanian banks in line with sovereign: Fitch Ratings has revised the outlooks of the ratings for Romania-based financial groups BCR and BRD-Groupe Societe Generale to negative from stable. The agency has maintained the banks’ Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at BBB+.
- Most companies operating virtually strongly affected by COVID-19 crisis: Most companies that are conducting their economic activity in the virtual environment were powerfully affected by the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, shows a study conducted in the April 1-20, 2020 period, on a sample of 592 companies.
- Romanian company to start producing disposable medical protective coveralls: A Romanian company producing personal protective equipment, Matei Conf Grup, will start to produce disposable medical protective coveralls, reads a press release sent on Thursday to AGERPRES. The company has produced special protective equipment made of textiles for 17 years, with its clients being, among others, OMV Petrom, Lukoil, Apa Nova, Enel, Electrica, the Romanian Army.
- President hails support of private companies and NGOs in setting up support medical unit near Bucharest: President Klaus Iohannis has praised the involvement of private companies and NGOs in endorsing the state’s efforts to fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, after visiting together with PM Ludovc Orban and Raed Arafat, the chief of the Department for Emergency Situations, the “Bucurestii Noi” Medical Support Unit, set up following a Auchan-Leroy Merlin initiative, joined by other tens of companies.
- Google Romania launches “Google for SMEs” platform to help companies digitalize: US giant Google has launched a website in Romania with free tools and consulting for small and medium enterprises, under the name “Google for SMEs” , according to a press release from the company sent to Agerpres on Friday.
- TAROM resumes flights starting May 2. The company announced the first destinations: State airline TAROM resumes flights starting May 2. The first destination to fly to is Amsterdam, and in the coming days there will be flights to Athens, Paris and Frankfurt.
- European Commission presents guide for a safe return to work: The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) today published a guide on returning to work, as employers wondered how to ensure their employees’ health and safety.