EUROPE DAY Europe is experiencing the most difficult period since WW2, the president of Romania Klaus Iohannis says in a message released on Europe Day, May 9. He says that this is a time that tests our resilience, unity and humanity, and that, faced with the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, Romania has once again proved to be a trustworthy partner. The president mentioned that teams of Romanian doctors and nurses went to Italy and the Republic of Moldova to support the efforts to fight the epidemic. Romania is also the first EU member state to manage a strategic stock of medical equipment for the entire Union, and under this mechanism vital equipment has already been delivered to the worst hit areas. May 9 marks the 1945 victory of the Allies against Nazi Germany in WW2, as well as the historic 1950 declaration of the French foreign minister Robert Schuman, proposing an economic cooperation plan between France and Germany, to do away with deep-rooted rivalries. On the same day, Romania celebrated its independence from the Ottoman Empire, proclaimed during the Russo-Turkish war in 1877.
COVID-19 The National Public Health Institute Saturday presented a draft list of measures to be implemented as of May 15, when the state of emergency introduced 2 months ago to contain the coronavirus outbreak ends. The list includes field specific measures and refers to the resumption of the activities suspended in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Among other things, appointments to dentist practices and beauty salons will be mandatory, and a distance of at least one and a half metres between clients will be secured. End-of-cycle students will only attend classes of 10 children at most, and will not spend more than 3 hours a day together. In open-plan offices and public transport, face masks will be compulsory. This set of measures is currently subject to public debate. The interior minister Marcel Vela urged companies with more than 50 employees to organise shifts so as to reduce pressure on public transportation. He added that the committee drafting the rules for lifting restrictions are still discussing whether the sworn statement required at present for those who leave their home should be maintained after May 15. According to the authorities, the total number of deaths in Romania is 929. The total number of cases so far is over 15,100. Of these, over 6,400 have recovered. Among the Romanians living abroad, 2,756 have tested positive for the virus, most of them in Italy and Spain, and 99 have died since the start of the pandemic.
NATO The Romanian Chief of Defence Staff, lieutenant general Daniel Petrescu, Friday discussed in a conference call with the chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Sir Stuart Peach. According to a news release issued on Saturday, talks focused on the management of the COVID-19 crisis at Allied level, NATO’s operations, missions and commitments and the impact of the current context on the security environment. The NATO official emphasised the important role of the Allied solidarity in fighting the pandemic, the concentration of efforts for the mutual support of member states and the medium and long term repercussions of the current health crisis on the Alliance and its partners. In turn lieutenant general Petrescu highlighted the national commitment in theatres of operations and the efforts to consolidate a coherent deterrence and defence posture for NATO. The Romanian Army’s experience in supporting local and central public authorities to fight the coronavirus outbreak was also presented and discussed.
TRANSPORT Airlines are bound to refund the price of tickets for cancelled flights, according to the EU legislation, the European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean announced. She said citizens must contact the relevant member states, because many countries have provided state aid to airlines precisely in order to help them cover their cash shortages. Adina Vălean also announced that next week she will make public a list of safety rules for various transport means, as cross-border traffic is being gradually resumed and the EU seeks to help the tourism industry recover. She also said the so-called green corridors for commodities will be preserved in the foreseeable future.
PANDEMIC The European Commission has called on all Schengen member and associate states to extend the temporary ban on non-essential travel in the EU until June 15. Although some member countries are already lifting the restrictions aimed at fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the situation is still fragile both in Europe and in the rest of the world, the Commission argues. This is why external border restrictions are still needed, in order to reduce the risk of the disease spreading through travel into EU countries. The number of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases worldwide is around 3.9 million, and the death toll stands at over 274,000. In the US, over 1.2 million people have tested positive, and in Spain, Italy and the UK the number of cases is over 200,000.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)