MEASURES President Klaus Iohannis announced on Tuesday that extending the state of alert beyond June 15 is necessary, given the absence of a significant drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases. The head of state also announced further easing of containment measures starting mid-June, including a possible reopening of shopping malls, kindergartens, private schools, gyms and outdoor pools. However, hygiene and physical distancing measures will have to be strictly complied with. The extension of the state of alert must be approved by Parliament, which is why the president called on MPs to be responsible, and said this is the only way the authorities can contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 In Romania, 9 more people infected with the novel coronavirus died, taking the death toll to 1,354, the Strategic Communication Group announced on Tuesday. According to the latest data, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Romania is over 20,700. Of these, more than 14,900 have recovered, while 152 patients are in intensive care units. Around 3,300 Romanian nationals living abroad have so far tested positive for the virus, mostly in Italy, Germany and Spain, and 114 of them died. The head of the Emergency Department, Raed Arafat, emphasised that full relaxation is, for the time being, out of the question.
PARLIAMENT The simple motion tabled
by the Social Democratic Party in opposition against labour minister Violeta
Alexandru was discussed and passed by the Senate on Tuesday. The Social
Democrats requested the Labour Minister to step down over the emergency order
on furlough and other measures concerning vulnerable categories, which was
poorly written and required several successive changes. The minister was also
criticised for how she handled the situation of the Romanian nationals who left
the country to work abroad. Violeta Alexandru dismissed the accusations. The
Chamber of Deputies decided on Tuesday to discuss and vote on the motion
against the development minister Ion Stefan at a later date. The finance
minister Florin Cîţu is also invited on Wednesday to present explanations to
the Senate's economic and budget-finances committees concerning Standard&Poor's decision with
respect to including Romania in their investment-grade category.
ECONOMY The year-on-year economic growth rate in the first quarter of this year, 2.4%, is primarily owing to consumption, which went up 3.8%. According to preliminary data made public on Tuesday by the National Statistics Institute, the GDP was 0.3% higher in the first quarter, in real terms, than in the 4th quarter of 2019. Romania’s trade balance deficit also deepened by roughly 201 million euros in Q1 compared to the previous quarter.
EU PM Ludovic Orban took part on Tuesday in a conference call organized by the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU, with the ambassadors of EU countries in Bucharest. The PM emphasised that the Government now focuses on economic recovery, and mentioned measures to support the companies and the employees affected by the pandemic. Ludovic Orban also said the Cabinet is considering measures to ensure cashflows, to support investments in vital sectors and to improve the efficiency of EU fund absorption. In turn, the ambassador of Croatia to Romania and the Republic of Moldova, Marija Kapitanovic, commended the Government of Romania for its handling of the health crisis and the repatriation of Romanian citizens from the countries affected by the pandemic.
FESTIVAL This year, the Sibiu International Theatre Festival (FITS) will hold a special, online edition, scheduled between June 12th and 21st, the organisers have announced. FITS #online "Empowered" will be fully accessible online, on the Festival’s homepage and Facebook and YouTube channels. According to the organisers, for 10 days the public will be able to watch some of the best ever theatre, dance, music, and opera performances online. Between June the 15th and 17th, over 100 performing artists and companies will take part online in the Sibiu Performance Exchange, the only event in Romania that brings together performing arts professionals, cultural managers and agents.
REPATRIATION Romania’s Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that 166 Romanian nationals were repatriated from the UK, including students, airline personnel as well as people who could no longer extend their stay for various reasons. A special flight by the Romanian airline Tarom was used for this operation, and 3 British citizens were taken to the UK on the same occasion.
PARTNERSHIP A Romanian defence ministry team will return to the country on Wednesday after a mission to support the Alabama state authorities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a Defence Ministry news release, the 15 military and civilians in the team work in emergency military hospitals in the country and in the field of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence. The cooperation between Romania and the state of Alabama is part of a State Partnership Program initiated in 1993 and coordinated by the US European Command. So far more than 200 bilateral operations have been conducted, with an emphasis on interoperability between military structures, at NATO standards, support for civilian authorities, aid provision and support in the deployment of Romanian units to theatres of operations.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)