State of alert extended in Romania
The state of alert has been extended in Romania by 30 more days, starting on September 15, as part of prevention against COVID-19. This is the fourth such decision, after Romania went into a state of alert in mid-May, once the state of emergency ran out. Additional measures were issued by emergency executive order for the local elections of September 27, and the preceding election campaigns, along with measures such as limiting the number of people attending rallies to 100 at a time, provided they comply with health measures. Security forces are mandated to take measures against violations of said provisions. At the same time, mobile voting polls are instructed to go first to people in isolation or quarantine, then to people who cannot leave their domicile for other reasons. At the same time, restrictions were lifted for contact sports, after heads of federation for sports such as wrestling, judo, or boxing complained that they cannot organize competitions or even regular training.
Public ombudsman report for the pandemic
Romania is the EU country with the most stringent measures during the state of emergency and state of alert, in terms of curtailing rights and freedom, according to the 'Public Ombudsman's Report on Human Rights between March 16- September 10'. The document specifies that restricting rights and freedoms can only be done by legislating, not by emergency executive orders or lower level regulations, and only for a limited period of time. Also, the Public Ombudsman specified that infected people were put in hospital forcibly, even when asymptomatic, both during the state of emergency and that of alert, and that this situation continues. The document, though, specifies that some measures taken by the authorities starting on March 16 have been beneficial, and did prevent the spread of the virus. It goes on to say that during the relevant period over 300,000 fines were levied, worth a total of about 120 million Euro. However, the number of fines by population numbers is tiny, which goes to show that most people have been complying with public safety measures.
Romania starts the school year with special health measures
The new school year started in Romania with special health measures in place. Classes are being held in line with three formulas laid out by the authorities, depending on the epidemiological situation in the location of the school. Most schools run classes according to the green scenario, meaning daily courses face to face. In others, the yellow scenario applies, which only the youngest and the oldest students show up to school regularly, with the other classes attending by rotation. A few hundred schools have been relegated to the red scenario, with strictly on-line courses. In his message to students and teachers, President Klaus Iohannis once again called for compliance with health measures. The representatives of students, parents, and union leaders in education believe that the measures instituted in schools fall short of the mark, and that the existing ones are not being applied properly.
Voting registration deadline extended for Romanians in the diaspora
The deadline for voting registration of Romanians in the diaspora, applying to both mail-in voting or in-person voting for the upcoming parliamentary elections has been extended until October 21. The measure was taken by Parliament, which issued a law to this end, endorsed this week by the head of state. The head of the Permanent Election Authority specified that, in the context of the pandemic, several countries in Europe would not allow Romanians on their territory to vote in person, but only by mail. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for December 6.
Patriot missiles stationed in Romania
The first Patriot surface-to-air missile system has become active with Romanian armed forces this week. This is one of the most high-performance air defense systems, identical with the one used by American forces. Romania becomes the 17th country to operate such a system, and 7th among NATO member states. Bucharest has committed to spending 2% of its budget on defense, and the Patriot system is a major part of the acquisition system, said PM Ludovic Orban. This is the first major system purchase and delivery after the 2015 signing of the national political agreement for boosting defense spending. Three more Patriot units will be purchased for the Romanian Air Corps by the end of 2022.