COVID-19 IN ROMANIA - Restaurants, bars,
cinemas, theatres and gambling outlets will reopen in Bucharest staring today.
All these venues will work at reduced capacity and with limited working hours.
The ease in restrictions follows a drop in the infection rate in the capital
city, to under 3 per thousand inhabitants, thus taking Bucharest out of the red
zone. Meanwhile the vaccination campaign continues. Over 860,000 people have
made appointments so far, of whom over half have already been immunized. The
sixth delivery of over 92,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines arrived earlier today in
airports in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Timişoara. The vaccines will then be
taken to regional centers for storing and administration. On Monday, the Group for
Strategic Communication announced another 1,500 new confirmed cases of COVID-19
and 65 related deaths. 1,000 patients are in intensive care.
COVID-19 IN THE
WORLD - There are over 10 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world
right now and over 2.1 million associated deaths, the latest worldometers.info
update indicates. Meanwhile, the new coronavirus strains discovered in Great
Britain and South Africa continue to spread around the world, and vaccination
campaigns are slowing down after Pfizer reduced its production capacity, thus
affecting its deliveries to European states. EU leaders assure pharmaceutical
companies will observe delivery deadlines under the signed agreements.
Meanwhile authorities in Germany, France, the Netherlands or Belgium are
introducing harsh restrictions. In turn, Spain is facing a third wave of the
pandemic. According to our correspondent on the ground, the regions of Madrid
and Valencia, home to large Romanian communities, are as of today reintroducing
restrictions due to the large number of COVID cases. Restaurants in Valencia
are shut down and the Police in Madrid are using drones to check the observance
of health safety measures. Nearly all regions will be isolated for the next two
weeks. In the United States, President Joe Biden today will sign a decree
reintroducing travel restrictions for citizens from the EU, Great Britain and
Brazil. With this move the new White House leader wants to keep the mutated
strains of COVID away from the United States.
ECONOMY - Romania's budget is
under a lot of pressure right now, due to the need to observe the 7% deficit
target agreed upon with the European Commission, Romanian Deputy Prime Minister
Dan Barna said on Monday. The Romanian official said the Government is working
on a Reconstruction and Resilience Plan which Romania will advance to the
European Commission, under which our country is due to receive some €30 billion.
On the other hand, the state budget for this year is still under discussion,
and the Government wants to adopt it in the first half of February. The
Government is also due to pass a law providing for a 3% increase in the minimum
wage starting January 2021. In another development, Moody's financial rating
agency says the Government in Bucharest passed the most restrictive economic
support package in Central and Eastern Europe in the context of the COVID
pandemic. Thus Romania has allotted only 4% of its GDP to economic recovery.
The report also reveals that half of this package accounts for direct measures
or tax breaks or payment deferrals, while the other half represents Government
MEETING - Romania's Foreign Affairs Minister, Bogdan Aurescu, is today attending a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers
in Brussels. EU officials, alongside the High Representative for Foreign
Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, will exchange views on the EU
strategy for distributing vaccines to third-world countries, developments in
the case of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, prospects of consolidating
trans-Atlantic ties and EU-Turkey relations. Minister Bogdan Aurescu will also
notify his European counterparts regarding progress on setting up the
Euro-Atlantic Resilience Center in Romania. During an informal breakfast
meeting, EU Foreign Affairs Ministers will also tackle EU-UK relations in terms of
foreign policy and security, considering the withdrawal of Great Britain from
the community bloc on January 1, 2021.
UNEMPLOYMENT - The
unemployment rate stood at 3.38% in December 2020, up by 0.06% compared to the
previous month and by 0.41% compared to December 2019, the National Employment
Agency reports. The total number of unemployed was close to 300,000, two thirds
of them reported in the rural area. People without studies and those with basic
training account for the largest share in the number of unemployed.
SUMMIT - World leaders are
today meeting online in the first summit devoted to protecting the planet
against climate change. The summit focuses on the effects of climate change.
The previous such summits were devoted to combating the causes of climate
change, carbon gas emissions in particular. The event is aimed at reducing the
vulnerability of state in the face of rising sea levels, a surge in extreme
weather phenomena and food shortages all over the world.
PORTUGAL - Portugal on Sunday
elected the moderate Conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as its new president,
after a ballot held with the strict observance of COVID-related health safety
measures. According to AFP, the current president, a 72-year-old law professor,
earned public recognition as a TV sports commentator. Sousa won 60.7% of the
vote, according to partial results covering nearly all constituencies. In his
victory speech, President Sousa promised he would make it his priority to
combat the COVID pandemic. (V. Palcu)