COVID-19 The Government of Romania is to extend today for the 4th time the state of alert triggered by the COVID 19 pandemic. The National Committee for Emergency Situations is due to make final proposals on the measures to be implemented. The relevant government order will include measures concerning the local elections due on September 27. PM Ludovic Orban said authorities were considering bigger locations for polling stations and outdoor waiting areas, in order to comply with physical distancing requirements. Meanwhile, the Government is looking at easing some restrictions in the forthcoming period. The state of alert was introduced on May 15, after a 2-month state of emergency. The total number of coronavirus infections in Romania is over 104,000, with the death toll standing at 4,185.
SCHOOLS An atypical school year has begun in Romania today, with special coronavirus protection measures in place. Education is a vital prerequisite for a civilised society, and children are returning to schools with one more lesson to learn—how to take care of one’s health and of the health of others, said PM Ludovic Orban in a message on this occasion. He warned that the danger posed by the disease is not over and that the new school year is a challenge for children, their families, teachers and authorities.
DIPLOMACY The Romanian foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu had telephone talks with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, following the political consultations held during his visit to Israel this month. According to the Foreign Ministry, the 2 officials reviewed the preparations for a new joint government meeting due next year. They also looked at the arrangements for the set up of a new expert group preparing the meeting, which will focus on mutually relevant topics like agriculture, water management, IT, cyber security and AI. The talk also occasioned an exchange of opinions on the Middle East peace process. “Romania supports the resolution of this problem based on international law and on the 2-state solution, Israel and Palestine, living next to each other in peace and prosperity,” the Romanian foreign minister said. On September 2-3, minister Aurescu discussed with high-level political officials both in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and in Ramallah.
PANDEMIC Many countries are reintroducing lockdowns in the context of a so-called “second wave” of the COVID 19 pandemic. The World Health Organisation Sunday reported nearly 308,000 new infections for the last 24 hours, a new global record, Reuters reports. The most significant increases were in India, the USA and Brazil. The total number of cases worldwide is nearing 29.2 million, and the number of COVID-related deaths is 928,000. Israel reintroduced a 3-week lockdown in a move to contain the new wave. Strict restrictions regarding groups larger than 6 people have come into force in the UK today. And also as of Monday, face masks, already compulsory in supermarkets and public transportation, must be worn in all public buildings and shops in Austria.
BELARUS The president of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko has a meeting in Russia today with his counterpart Vladimir Putin. This is the first meeting of the 2 officials since the start of large-scale anti-presidential protests in Minsk. Russia sent troops to Belarus to take part in joint military exercises. Scheduled to last until September 25, the drills take place amid extensive protests in Belarus following the August presidential election. The ballot was won by Lukashenko, but the opposition claims the election was rigged. Western countries have asked for a new election. On Sunday, tens of thousands took to the streets once again, across the country, asking for the resignation of Belarus’s strongman of 26 years, largely seen as the last dictator in Europe.
TENNIS The Romanian player Patricia Ţig won the first WTA title in her career on Sunday, in the tournament in Istanbul. She defeated Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) in the final, after a dramatic match. For Ţig (26, no 88 WTA), this was the 3rd WTA final, after the ones in Baku (2015) and Bucharest (2019). The Romanian player has also won the 2019 tournament in Karlsruhe. Meanwhile, the Romanian Irina Begu has qualified into the main group of the Rome tournament. She beat the German Anna-Lena Friedsam, 6-1, 6-1 in the qualifying round 2. Simona Halep is also seed no 1 in this tournament. She is to take on the winner of the match pitting Latvian Anastasija Sevastova against the Italian Jasmine Paolini. The Rome tournament begins today.
(translated by: A.M. Popescu)