Small number of infections, reduced appetite for vaccinations
Early this week, Romania has prolonged for one more month the state of alert. The decision comes with a notable change, regarding the period of exemptions for preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 for people who have been through the disease. This increases from 90 to 180 days after the confirmation of infections with SARS-CoV-2. The people who have been diagnosed in the last six months can take part in indoor athletic competitions, shows, concerts, outdoor cultural events, as well as weddings and baptisms indoors. The number of infections nationally has been very low, only dozens, but fears increase that the new Delta variant, which is spreading rapidly, especially in the west of the continent, would become dominant in autumn in Romania as well. The population, in spite of constant appeals and pro-vaccination campaigns, is not rushing to vaccinate. The threshold of five million Romanians vaccinated with both doses has not been reached even now, a month and a half from the optimistic target date set by the authorities. France and Greece have decided to impose mandatory vaccination to healthcare personnel, but the government in Bucharest is thinking of a financial penalty for medical staff who refuse to vaccinate, by making them pay out of pocket the mandatory tests they take. At the same time, passengers who fly to Romania from countries on the yellow list and have the European COVID digital certificate or have a valid test can come into the country sidestepping health controls. This is valid for people who arrive from countries on the red list and have the certificate. The digital certificates from the UK and from countries outside the EU are not valid.
Educated Romania becomes a joint presidency-government project
The center right executive in Bucharest adopted this week the Educated Romania project, introduced by President Klaus Iohannis. It is an ambitious project, which aims to improve school infrastructure and increasing teaching quality. The executive plans to finalize the legislative package to run this initiative by October 1. As the president put it: 'A fully developed country with a consolidated democracy has an educated and well informed population. We cannot continue having such high rates of dropping out and functional illiteracy'. The main aims of the project are reducing early dropout rates, reducing functional illiteracy from 50 to 20 percent by the end of the decade, ensuring basic digital competencies for teachers and students, developing vocational learning, as well as increasing the number of higher education students. The money for the project will be provided by the National Plan of Recovery and Resilience, as well as the state budget.
Bucharest salutes the electoral success of right wing forces in Chisinau
The Party for Action and Solidarity, founded by pro-European reformist president Maia Sandu, can form a government by itself and will dominate in Parliament in the Republic of Moldova, as a result of the unprecedented victory in the early elections against the Communists and the Socialists. The history of Romania's small neighbor to the east, with ties of language and culture, is now radically changed, and Bucharest has firmly reaffirmed its support for the reforms and European aspirations promised by Maia Sandu and her party. The presidency congratulated Moldovan citizens for their civic spirit and the clear option for reforms, the rule of law, and European integration, and Maia Sandu for her courage, perseverance, and vision. PM Florin Citu also sent congratulations and support for reforms. The Romanian Foreign Ministry saluted the victory of European and pro-reform forces, and expressed hope that a pro-European government will form in Chisinau as soon as possible.
Former authoritarian Social Democratic leader Liviu Dragnea is out of prison
Former Social Democratic leader Liviu Dragnea is out of prison, after serving about two thirds of the 3 and a half year sentence he got because of corruption. He had been incarcerated in May 2019. This legal saga, however, is not at an end. Liviu Dragnea is under investigation in two more cases, the more recent tied to his visit to the United States to attend Donald Trump's inauguration. In this case, he is accused of influence peddling and abuse of influence and authority. According to the 2019 sentence, he is barred from public or elected positions up until 2024. His political return to the Social Democratic Party now seems improbable, especially after the sharp tongued statements he made regarding the current party leadership, the most important opposition party right now.
The first Romanian athletes arrived in Tokyo
Late this week, Romanian athletes that will represent the country in the Olympic Games arrived in Japan. The Olympic Games were delayed because of the pandemic, and will take place between July 23 and August 8, under unprecedented sanitary security conditions, with empty stadiums. The Romanian team includes 101 athletes, which will compete in swimming, athletics, rowing, soccer, gymnastics, 3 on 3 women's basketball, cycling, wrestling, shooting, canoeing, table tennis, boxing, fencing, triathlon, judo, archery, and tennis. Also in sports: Romanian soccer champions CFR Cluj is over its first hurdle in it run for the European competition groups. After a 3 to 1 score at home and a 1 to 2 score away, the current champions overcame Bosnian side Borac Banja Luka, and qualified for the second preliminary round of the League of Champions. Next they face Lincoln Red Imps, champions in Gibraltar, which overcame the Luxembourg side Fola Esch.