LAW A law regulating the state of alert takes effect in Romania on Monday, after being endorsed on Wednesday by the Chamber of Deputies and promulgated by President Klaus Iohannis. Under the new law, the state of alert cannot be longer than 30 days and may only be extended for justified reasons, at the proposal of the Interior Ministry. The state of alert replaces the state of emergency introduced 2 months ago over the coronavirus pandemic. For 30 days, wearing protective face masks in shops, public transportation, at work and in other public enclosed areas will be compulsory. People may leave their homes, but they need a sworn statement and justified reasons to leave their home locality.
COVID-19 In Romania 1,104 SARS CoV-2-related deaths have been reported, out of a total of over 16,800 cases, according to the latest data made public by the authorities. More than 10,000 patients have recovered. Among the Romanians living abroad, nearly 3,000 have tested positive and 103 have died because of this disease since the start of the pandemic.
BORDER Checkpoints on Romania’s Hungarian border, in the west, were overcrowded on Sunday as border checks require longer times because of the epidemiological checks conducted by the Public Health Directorate on incoming travellers. In Nădlac 1, cars had to queue for as long as 8 hours to be able to come into Romania and around 1.5 hours to be able to go out. At the Borş checkpoint in the north-west, the waiting time was 3 hours to enter the country and 40 minutes to exit. As of May 15th, when the state of emergency was replaced by a state of alert, all people coming into Romania from abroad must self-isolate. Those who cannot do so at home or who choose to protect their families may be accommodated in special facilities made available by the authorities.
PARLIAMENT Senate will debate on Monday a simple motion tabled by the Social Democratic Party (in opposition) against the Romanian agriculture minister Adrian Oros. The Social Democrat Petre Daea, former agriculture minister, argues that since the Orban Cabinet took power, the normal course of agriculture programmes has been hindered. He warns that farmers are now in a difficult position, among others because the authorities have either blocked or delayed some ongoing programmes. The Social Democrats also claim that the agriculture minister failed to take concrete measures with respect to the drought and the grain exports during the corona crisis. In response, Adrian Oros argues that the motion is proof that he has disrupted certain groups of interests which controlled the ministry in recent years. Meanwhile, the Social Democrats announce they are considering motions against other Cabinet members, including the education, healthcare and interior ministers.
ECONOMY Romania saw the highest economic growth rate of the 27 EU member states in the 1st quarter of this year, compared to the corresponding period in 2019, according to preliminary data released by the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat. The countries with the largest year-on-year growth in Q1, 2020 were Romania, with 2.7%, Lithuania with 2.5% and Bulgaria with 2.4%. The most severe contraction was reported by France, negative 5.4%, followed by Italy and Spain. The Eurozone’s GDP dropped by more than 3% in the first 3 months of this year compared to 2019, and also saw the biggest fall since 2009. Also, in the first 3 months of 2020, compared to the previous quarter, the Eurozone saw a 3.8% drop, the most severe since 1995, when this type of data was first released. Forecasts for the coming months are even more alarming. The latest report of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says Romania’s economy might shrink by 4% this year, as against the 3.2% increase forecast in November 2019. The European Commission expects Romania’s economy to fall by a substantial 6% in 2020, and the IMF forecasts a 5% drop. However, all major international financial institutions estimate that the Romanian economy will recover next year, with growth rates between 3.9 and 4.4%.
PANDEMIC The total number of novel coronavirus infections worldwide is over 4.7 million, with the death toll standing at over 313,000 and nearly 1.8 million people recovered from the disease. The situation remains critical in the USA, where the number of deaths reported since the start of the pandemic has passed 88,700. The US has so far reported over 1.4 million cases. Official figures indicate that Brazil is now the 4th worst hit country in the world in terms of total cases, after the US, Russia and the UK. In Brazil, the total number of cases is over 230,000. Experts say testing in that country is rather limited, which means the actual infection rate may be even 5 times higher. Italy, which has so far reported over 31,000 deaths, Monday reopens shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, beaches, pools and gyms, as well as beauty salons. Rome has also announced that on June 3rd it will open borders for tourists coming from the EU and Schengen countries, including Switzerland and Monaco, without compulsory quarantine for these travellers.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)