COVID-19 President Klaus Iohannis has a new meeting today with the interior minister Marcel Vela and with the head of the Department for Emergencies Raed Arafat, to assess the situation and the causes of the steady growth in the number of COVID-19 cases. New containment measures were included by the Government on Wednesday night in an executive order concerning the state of alert. Authorities have decided that in counties or localities with large numbers of COVID-19 cases, the opening hours of outdoor bars and restaurants may be restricted. Also, in crowded areas where social distancing cannot be ensured, protection masks may become compulsory even outdoors. As of Thursday, face masks are compulsory in crowded outdoor areas in several counties in Romania where the number of coronavirus infections has risen sharply in recent weeks. The measure is adopted by an increasing number of counties, after more than a week with over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. On Thursday a new record-high number of new cases was reported, 1,356, with the total so far in Romania nearing 50,000, and the death toll standing at 2,304. Nearly 26,600 patients have recovered.
CHILDREN The labour minister Violeta Alexandru presented in the Cabinet meeting a bill providing for the gradual doubling of child benefits, to roughly 60 euros per month for children aged 2 to 18 and to 120 euros per month for children up to 2 years of age and for children with disabilities. The minister explained the increase will be gradual, up until 2022. In a first stage, in September, child benefits will be raised by 20%. The Government intends to pass the bill in Friday’s Cabinet meeting. Parliament voted to double child benefits, at the proposal of the Social Democratic Party in opposition, but the implementation of the measure was postponed because the coronavirus crisis has put pressure on the state budget.
YOUTH 56% of Romanian youth lost their confidence and motivation, according to a survey, Insights PulseZ, designed to identify the response and behaviour of young people during the 2-month state of emergency introduced in March over the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, the survey revealed, the sudden suspension of day to day activities disrupted youngsters’ emotional balance. More than half of them were affected by the lack of face-to-face meetings, and nearly 35% admitted to having experienced tiredness and mood swings. The survey also shows that 44% of Romanian youth spent over 8 hours a day online. 33% of them attended online classes, and an equal number watched series and films.
ELECTION Over 2,000 Romanian citizens living abroad have registered on an electronic platform, votstrainatate.ro, to vote in this year’s parliamentary elections. Over 1,390 of them chose to vote by mail, and nearly 620 registered to vote in polling stations. The Permanent Electoral Authority in Bucharest urges Romanian nationals living abroad to choose voting by mail as a safe and comfortable means to cast their ballots, without queuing, traveling, costs or risks, particularly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Information on the registration procedure is available at votstrainatate.ro, and questions can be sent by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Permanent Electoral Authority says citizens may enrol as voters abroad no later than 15 days prior to the election date.
UNTOLD The 6th edition of the largest electronic music festival in Romania, Untold, begins today and will be held online for 4 days, amid restrictions and social distancing rules triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The organisers have announced exceptional guests and surprises. In February, Untold announced its first participants this year, including David Guetta, Martin Garrix and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. Pussycat Dolls, Iggy Azalea and The Script also confirmed their participation, while Paul Kalkbrenner, Charlotte de Witte and Richie Hawtin make up the techno section of the festival. Over 80,000 fans have enrolled to take part in this online edition of the festival. (translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)