Bucharest announces new restrictions, and once again urges the Romanians living abroad not to come home for Easter
Around 4 months since the new coronavirus was first reported in China’s Wuhan city, the toll is growing ever more disquieting at global level, and Europe and the USA are now the regions with the largest number of cases, and implicitly, the regions where the virus has killed the most.
In Romania, experts expect the pandemic to peak at some point in mid-April. Bucharest has announced measures to contain the spreading of the virus, but the number of cases is growing by the day. Ţăndărei, in the south-east of the country, is the second town in Romania after Suceava to go under full lockdown. The decision was made under a military order, after the town was confirmed as a hotbed of infection in Ialomiţa County. It was precisely the local authorities that requested the lockdown, after hundreds of locals returned from abroad and defied all isolation requirements, in spite of the hundreds of fines ordered by the police. Police and military roadblocks are placed at all entryways to the town, and freight transport and emergencies are the only ones permitted to and from Ţăndărei, the interior minister, Marcel Vela, explained:
Marcel Vela: “We will only permit access to and from the town for freight transport purposes, for bringing in supplies to the locals, for some economic activities and for certain sectors such as public order, national security, healthcare and, obviously, public utilities. The verification and control activities are conducted by joint Interior Ministry and Defence Ministry staff”.
The town of Suceava in the north-east, and 8 adjacent villages, were also fully locked down early last week, as the number of coronavirus cases had reached alarming levels. Moreover, military staff took over the management of the Suceava County Hospital. On Saturday, a hospital in the same county was closed down, and another one was partly closed.
Meanwhile, the interior minister Marcel Vela urges the Romanians living abroad not to come home for Easter and to protect their families in Romania by staying in their host countries.
Marcel Vela: “I call on all fellow Romanians in the diaspora to understand that this is for the better, even for themselves, because a long journey, where you have contact with other people in other countries, in petrol stations for instance, poses a risk of infection. And in this undesirable scenario, they come home and give the virus precisely to the people they love.”
In fact, PM Ludovic Orban warns that those who choose to come to Romania after all will have to be quarantined for 14 days in special facilities, given that the number of “red-zone” countries, with more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases, has grown significantly. Starting on Sunday night, all passenger flights to and from another 9 countries are suspended for 14 days. These countries include Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the US, Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Turkey and Iran.
Flights to and from Spain, Italy, France and Germany had already been suspended. Charter flights are however permitted, to take Romanian seasonal workers to other countries. International road passenger transport is also suspended, but authorities introduced facilities for drivers in international freight transport.
And because many citizens still fail to understand the seriousness of the situation and to comply with the restrictions introduced recently, the authorities introduced tougher penalties for offences committed these days. The Government amended the relevant legislation, to the effect that offences committed under the state of emergency are punished more quickly and receive harsher penalties.
(translated by: Ana-Maria Popescu)