Romanian Government introduces a new bill on measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, as previous legislation is declared unconstitutional
On Monday, the Romanian Government approved a new bill regarding the initiation of hygienic-sanitary measures to be taken in special situations of high epidemiological or biological risk. The bill mainly regulates the conditions for quarantine and isolation and, as the health minister Nelu Tataru has stated, "was necessary to manage and control the Covid-19 pandemic."
For a few days now, Romania has been facing a legislative void with regard to this matter, after the Constitutional Court ruled that the provisions by means of which patients with Covid -19 or people suspected of having Covid-19 were imposed restrictions meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus were unconstitutional. The Court said that the texts of the law on mandatory hospitalization and quarantine during the epidemic were lacking in clarity and predictability, were uncertain and difficult to anticipate and did not offer guarantees of respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.
The Liberal health minister has explained that the bill is to be urgently submitted to Parliament (dominated by the opposition Social Democratic Party) and has voiced hope that national interest and the health of the Romanian people will leave no room for political bias. He has stated that, in less than 24 hours, 550 people who were in hospital for treatment and isolation, were discharged at their request, as a result of the Constitutional Court's annulling the legislation in the field. The new bill defines several terms, including quarantine, isolation, treatment and discharge from hospital.
Quarantine is therefore a measure to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and consists in the physical separation of healthy persons, of persons suspected of being infected or carrying a pathogen from other persons, in areas specially designated by authorities, at home or at a place declared by that person. Isolation is the physical separation of sick people in order to allow the monitoring of their health, to provide them with the right treatment and to reduce the level of contagion, usually through hospitalization. Isolation can be secured at home, if the hospital capacity is exceeded.
State Secretary Raed Arafat has also explained:
"As regards quarantine for healthy people who arrive in Romania from high risk countries, a decision is made by the National Committee for Emergency Situations, and implementation is made by the Ministry of Health and the subordinated institutions. There is also another possibility, of taking measures by means of orders by the commander of the action, which are subsequently validated by the National Committee. Here we talk about emergency situations which require immediate action."
In another move, Bucharest authorities have updated the list of countries for which there is no recommendation for isolation or quarantine. The list includes 44 countries, of which 32 are members of the EU and the EEA. Several European countries have imposed restrictions for the Romanian citizens after the alarming increase in the number of new infections in this country. (M. Ignatescu)