A roundup of domestic and international news.
CORONAVIRUS - The Bucharest government on Wednesday passed a normative act under which new groups of people are included in the second stage of the anti-Covid vaccination campaign, currently under way. Thus, the homeless, people with disabilities and the persons assisting them, sailors and workers on maritime platforms, members of the diplomatic missions and athletes taking part in international competitions are included in stage 2 of the vaccination campaign, alongside people aged over 65, chronic patients and employees working in key-sectors. Stage 3A of the immunization campaign has also been introduced, to include essential staff, especially from the private sector, PM Florin Citu announced. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 700,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed across the country and 635,000 patients have recovered. The total death toll has reached 17,485. About 1,000 patients are in ICUs. The capital Bucharest is in the yellow scenario again, with an infection rate smaller than 3 per thousand inhabitants, for the first time since last October.
INAUGURATION DAY – The Democrat Joe Biden took the oath of office in Washington DC and became the 46th US president. “Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause: the cause of democracy...At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed," Biden said in his speech. He made an appeal for unity and for the rejection of a culture in which facts are manipulated and even invented. He also observed a minute's silence in memory of the people who died from Covid-19. The Republican Donald Trump, who ended his controversial mandate, had left the White House hours before, without first welcoming his successors. 25 thousand military had been dispatched for the inauguration on the empty streets of Washington DC, a city highly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and following the violence at the Capitol two weeks ago. Commentators say that no other president in the modern history of the US had to deal with so many crises upon taking over his mandate as Biden: the coronavirus pandemic, economic emergencies, racial disputes and the challenge of reuniting a nation that had been unable to agree on the candidate who won the elections.
PROTESTS– The protests organized by Cartel Alfa - one of the main trade unions in Romania – continued on Wednesday, with the picketing of the Finance Ministry in Bucharest. On Tuesday, the trade unionists expressed their discontent at the headquarters of the ruling coalition parties, where their representatives met with the Liberal leader Ludovic Orban the leader of the USR-PLUS Alliance, Dan Barna. Their main demands are: a decent minimum wage, fair pensions, quality public services, unblocking collective bargaining, correct taxation and the correct application of legislation. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dan Barna, part of the demands could be resolved in the coming period, others must be considered in the context of an economy in crisis, which was generated by the Covid-19 pandemic and of a budget that should fall into the deficit of 7% of GDP.
SIBIU - The city of Sibiu, in central Romania, was included, for the second consecutive year, on the list of 20 best European tourist destinations by the European Best Destinations Association. The competition for establishing the top will take place between January 20 and February 10. The historical center, ways of spending time in the open, the region’s gastronomy and the trekking possibilities in the area are seen as the city’s strong points. In 2020, Sibiu was ranked 6th in the classification, ahead of Paris, Rome and Cork.
MOLDOVA - The President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, paid a two-day visit to Brussels, where she had meetings with the heads of the main European institutions, as well as with members of the Union's executive and parliament. During the meetings, she highlighted the priorities of her mandate – especially fighting corruption, speeding up of access to the COVID-19 vaccine for doctors and front-line healthcare workers, stepping up economic cooperation, gaining support for farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises. (Translated by E.E.)