A new military ordinance on the books in Romania, in the context of the pandemic
Romania is under a state of emergency which will last until mid-May due to the coronavirus pandemic. In this context, the authorities have issued a new military ordinance, the 10th one, which provides for relaxation of restrictions put on the movement of people over 65 years of age. Interior Minister Marcel Vela said that they will be able to be outside their homes between 7 AM and 11 AM, and between 7 PM and 10 PM, provided they go out to provide for goods that cover basic necessities for people, pets, or the home, in order to care for minors, and for assisting other elderly or sick people. Marcel Vela also announced the suspension of flights to and from Spain for 14 days, staring on April 28. He also announced the extension, until May 14 inclusively, of the suspension of flights to Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Turkey, Iran, Italy, France, and Germany. On Tuesday, Health Minister Nelu Tataru warned that Romania is heading towards the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, and that in he expects the number of new cases to drop day by day over the next two weeks. At the same time, the authorities made an appeal to the people to respect the restriction rules in the context of the May Day long weekend, the international day of labor, which they normally celebrate with picnics, outings, and parties.
Measures to relaunch the Romanian economy
The pandemic, which has disrupted everyone's life, was a major shock for the Romanian economy as well. In spite of this, Finance Minister Florin Citu assured everyone that Romania's economy will bounce back, because measures were implemented from the start to sustain production capacity, and that the country will come out of the crisis with modified, but more efficient and competitive structure of the economy, both state and private. For SMEs, for instance, a program was created, called SME Invest, meant to provide liquidity for current activities with state guaranteed loans. The app for the SME Invest Romania program was launched on April 17, but crashed after being sent hundreds of connections per minute. It became fully operational on April 28. The costs of financing are 100% covered by the state, and the amounts that can be applied for are considerable. Entrepreneurs can subscribe up to the end of the year, or until the 15 billion lei ceiling is reached, the equivalent of about 3 billion Euros. At the same time, the Economy Ministry decided to extend by three months the period during which the beneficiaries of the Start-up Nation can apply for payment or reimbursement allocated to financing orders issued within the limits of the budget. Start-up Nation is an initiative by which the state supports entrepreneurs who are starting businesses. One of the first sectors of the economy heavily hit by the pandemic is tourism, which is why Minister of the Economy Virgil Popescu said that this sector will be a priority during this summer, when Romanians will feel more secure in their country. He added that there are support packages for SMEs, and that hotel owners will be helped with compliance with new requirements imposed by the Health Ministry.
Romanian schools will reopen in September
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Romanian authorities to temporarily close kindergartens, schools, and universities on March 11, in order to contain the spread of the virus. Early this week, the head of state, Klaus Iohannis, announced that they would stay closed until September, when the new school year starts, and that until then there will be distance learning to cover educational needs. Education Minister Monica Anisie announced that the school situation of individual students will consist of a minimum of two averages or qualifications, that there will be no midterms, and that the subject matters that cannot be covered during this time will be covered at a later time. However, going back to school on June 2 are students in the last year of their current school cycle, in order to prepare for exams. In terms of higher education, students may continue distance learning, and will be able to take their exams on-line as well.
Extreme drought in Romania
As if the coronavirus pandemic were not enough, Romania is facing at present a severe drought. In April, rainfall barely reached 7 liters per sqm, compared to a multi-annual average of 53 liters. The preceding months had little rain, and the consequences are being felt in agriculture. Minister of Agriculture Adrian Oros said that this a historic drought in terms of severity. The situation is most severe in the south and east. Right now, only 850,000 ha can be irrigated, which is a mere 10% of the total surface. The official said that the program for recovery in this sector was implemented of a proper fashion, and he called on the restart of irrigation installations. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, three million hectares of the cultures sown in the autumn are already compromised – rapeseed, oats, barley, wheat, and rye are the worst affected. Many farmers said that bread will be more expensive in the autumn, but the authorities believe it is too early to make such statements. In order to support farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture announced simplified procedures for insuring crops.