The new restrictions designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus have sparked new street protests in Romania
On Sunday evening, the new restrictions aimed at
preventing the spread of the coronavirus took effect. In areas with an
incidence rate exceeding 4 cases per thousand inhabitants the nighttime curfew will
start at 8 PM from Fridays through Sundays, instead of 10 PM for the other week
days. On weekends, stores will close at 6 PM. The measures will apply over the
course of the entire week in areas with an incidence rate exceeding 7.5 per
thousand inhabitants. Gyms will be shut down and will reopen only when the
incidence rate falls below 3.5. Meanwhile, the Government is planning harsher
sanctions for businesses repeatedly violating COVID-related measures. A draft
law targeting nightclubs and restaurants is expected to be adopted this week.
Interior Minister Lucian Bode says the Government wants people to observe
"I've said it before and I'm saying it again, our goal
is not to sanction citizens and economic operators. The Interior Ministry's
goal is to limit the spread of the pandemic".
The authorities' decisions have been lately perceived
as illogical and abusive, some Romanians starting to lose patience. On Sunday,
after midnight, as the new measures took effect, thousands of people took to
the streets in large cities, voicing their disgruntlement.
"They're locking us down in our homes like dogs".
"We're protesting for our freedom and our right to go
out, because we have the right to be free. They have no right to take that away
from us! No one has!"
"We're protesting all these measures. They are
laughing at us. We voted for them, we put them there and what do they do? They
lock us down like rats".
"Freedom", "Don't stay at home, or you'll die alone",
"No restrictions" were some of the slogans shouted out on the streets of
Bucharest, Sibiu, Arad, Galați, Constanța or Brăila. The protesters criticized
the way the Government designed the curfew and called for new jobs, the
reopening of schools, restaurants and gyms, also demanding the healthcare
system be improved to help more people struggling with COVID-19. People also
shouted anti-Government slogans and called for the resignations of the head of
the Department for Emergency Situations, Raed Arafat, and Liberal Prime
Minister, Florin Cîţu. (V.P.)