COVID-19 The daily number of new COVID-19 infections and of hospitalised patients continues to drop in Romania. In the last 24 hours, 1,500 new cases and 127 deaths were reported. Some 1,360 patients are in intensive care. In Timişoara (western Romania) weekend restrictions have been lifted today, as the infection rate dropped below 3 per thousand. Meanwhile, the local authorities announced that the Timisoara Vaccination Marathon, launched on Friday, was a success, with more than 4,500 people immunised at the end of the second day. In fact, a similar marathon will be organised in Bucharest as well, between May 7 and 9, the coordinator of the national vaccination campaign Valeriu Gheorghiţă announced. In Deva, in the south-west, the drive-through vaccine centre opened yesterday in the parking lot of the biggest shopping mall in the city, is also a success, with 600 people getting the vaccine so far. Nationwide, in the last 24 hours, nearly 90,000 vaccine doses were given. So far over 3 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 1.8 million of them have also received the booster dose.
MEETING The president of Romania Klaus Iohannis announced a meeting will be held on Monday with the government officials in charge with drafting the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. Bucharest is trying to improve the Plan so that it can be approved by Brussels and so that Romania may receive nearly 30 billion euro. The minister for European funding, Cristian Ghinea, said yesterday that Romania will postpone the submission of the Plan to the EC for several weeks. He said the original deadline was April 30, but that further talks with EU officials are still necessary. The EC sent a number of objections to the plan previously submitted by Romania. The Social-Democrats in opposition want the plan discussed in Parliament, otherwise they threaten to go on parliamentary strike.
PALM SUNDAY Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Christians around the world, including Romania, mark Palm Sunday today, commemorating the arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem before the Crucifixion. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Passion Week, in which Christians are preparing for the Easter holiday, held on May 2nd. This year, because of the restrictions triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, religious services have been held within churches where physical distancing was possible, or outdoors. Palm Sunday is also the name day of close to 1.4 million Romanians.
BUY-BACK This year’s Rabla Clasic and Rabla Plus vehicle buy-back programmes begin on Monday. Rabla Clasic will have a budget of around 88 million euro, which is 35 million lei more than in 2020, allowing for the purchase of over 55,000 new, less polluting vehicles. Rabla Plus programme, which targets the purchase of electric cars, has a budget of nearly 80 million euro, will grant vouchers of 10,000 euro for the purchase of 'full electric' cars and some 4,500 euro for hybrid plug-in vehicles, accounting for up to 50% of the price of the new vehicle. Within the budget earmarked for this year, Rabla Plus will allow the purchase of up to 6,600 electric cars and around 5,000 hybrid cars.
OSCARS The 93rd Academy Awards Gala is held tonight in Los Angeles, after a 2-month postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will be split across two venues in the city - the Dolby Theatre and Union Station Gala. The Romanian production "Collective", by Alexander Nanau, is nominated in 2 categories, best documentary and best international feature film. These are the first Oscar nominations in the history of Romanian filmmaking. The documentary covers the efforts made by physicians, government officials and investigative journalists, who uncover a large-scale fraud in the Romanian healthcare system, after a fire in the Colectiv night club in Bucharest killed scores of people in October 2015. In 2020 the film won the European Film Academy award for best documentary, and the award for the best foreign film of the National Society of Film Critics in the US.
TENNIS The Romanian tennis player Sorana Cîrstea (no. 67 in the world), plays today against Belgian Elise Mertens (17 WTA) in the final of the WTA tournament in Istanbul. Yesterday in the semi-finals Cîrstea defeated the Ukrainian Marta Kostiuk (85 WTA), 6-4, 6-4, while Mertens beat Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova (29 WTA) 6-1, 6-4. This will be the 5th WTA final in Sorana Cîrstea’s career. She won in Tashkent (2008) and lost in Budapest (2007), Toronto (2013) and Tashkent (2019). On the other hand, Elise Mertens has won 6 WTA trophies: Hobart (2017), Rabat, Lugano, Hobart (2018), Doha (2019) and Gippsland Trophy (2021). (tr. A.M. Popescu)