COVID-19 President Klaus Iohannis Wednesday had a meeting with Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, Health Minister Nelu Tătaru and the head of the Department for Emergency Situations, Raed Arafat, to assess and present measures aimed at managing the COVID-19 pandemic. After the meeting, president Iohannis told a press conference that a downward trend in the number of infections has been noted since November 20, as a result of local lockdowns. He added the measures remain in place, and further restrictions will be introduced where necessary. Iohannis also said the authorities are not planning to introduce a nation-wide lockdown after the general election due on December 6. Also on Wednesday, the finance minister Florin Cîţu signed a 12-million euro advance payment to the European Commission for the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine. Romania wants to make sure it will be among the first countries to have access to the vaccine. In other news, the Romanian Red Cross has started a COVID-19 awareness raising campaign. On Wednesday, another 9,700 new COVID-19 infections and 168 related deaths were reported for the last 24 hours. Over 1,200 people are in intensive care.
SURE Romania will receive in the ensuing days a first instalment of 3 billion euros of the loan granted by the European Commission under SURE scheme, the Romanian finance minister Florin Cîţu announced on his Facebook account. The total loan requested by Romania amounts to 4.1 billion euro. The money will cover the deficit generated by measures like furlough or flexible working hours in the context of the pandemic. Apart from Romania, another 15 EU member states have access to this scheme, including Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Belgium. The SURE programme makes available a total 100 billion euros.
INVESTMENTS 46% of the foreign investors in Romania have this year cancelled, reduced or suspended investments, while 51% made no changes to the planned projects, according to a survey made public on Wednesday. 41 out of 100 investors believe Romania will still be attractive after the end of the pandemic, in sectors like agriculture, IT and the automotive and transport industries. On the other hand, the main areas in which Romania should invest in order to increase its competitiveness include education, infrastructure and technology. At the end of last year, the biggest investors in Romania were the Netherlands, Austria and Germany. Another survey, focusing on the state of the national economy, reveals that 58% of the SMEs in the country only have reserves for the next 1-2 months, while 22% estimate their existing funds would be enough for 2-4 months.
MEETING Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and Economy Minister Virgil Popescu Wednesday met with representatives of the hospitality sector, one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The talks focused on offsetting the losses incurred by this sector. PM Orban argued in favour of extending furlough for all employees whose activity has been affected by the health crisis and introducing flexible working hours so as to better meet the needs of the hospitality industry. Consultations between the Government and HoReCa operators will continue over the coming period. The Government has so far given tax breaks and continued to pay unemployment benefits to employees in furlough. The Government has also adopted a state-aid scheme whereby hospitality businesses are to receive 20% of the turnover they reported the previous year. All restaurants are currently shut down in Romania due to the high infection rate, and restaurants with outdoor seating have few clients because of the cold weather. Business owners in the sector say their losses amount even to 80%, and expect some 100,000 jobs to be lost by the end the year.
MARADONA World football legend Diego Armando Maradona, 60, died of a heart attack on Wednesday, international news agencies report. Maradona was struggling with depression and an alcohol addiction. Early this month he was hospitalised for routine checks, but 3 weeks ago he underwent emergency surgery for a blood clot in his brain. Diego Armando Maradona will be remembered as the footballer who scored some of the greatest goals in history. He played for Argentina for 17 years (1977-1994), scored 50 goals in 115 games and won his country its second World Cup in 1986. He retired from football at the age of 37. (translated by: A.M. Popescu)