State of emergency in Romania due to the new coronavirus pandemic
For the first time in the past 20 years, a state of emergency was declared in Romania on Monday, valid for 30 days, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to President Klaus Iohannis the spread of COVID-19 infections can only be stopped through exceptional measures that have proved their positive effects in countries which have been severely affected by the coronavirus epidemic. That is why such measures will also be taken in Romania for a period of 30 days. Schools and universities will remain closed, borders might also be closed, and, if necessary, road, rail and air traffic might be banned in certain areas. Also the authorities might requisition stocks of protection equipment, disinfectants and medicines used to treat the new coronavirus. The Romanian president has launched an appeal to the Romanian citizens to strictly observe the rules imposed by the authorities, to avoid crowds and limit any unnecessary travel. The decree which instates the state of emergency – which was signed by the Romanian President – was published in the Official Journal. The Romanian Parliament met in joint session on Thursday afternoon to vote the decree. Debates took place for the first time by means of a videoconference, with senators and deputies voting by means of a secure app.
New restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 imposed by the Romanian authorities
In the context of the state of emergency declared in Romania early this week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new restrictions have been enforced to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. The interior minister Marcel Vela announced on Tuesday evening that, under a military decree, the authorities suspended the activities of serving and consuming food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages inside and outside restaurants, hotels, cafes and other pubs. Also all cultural, scientific, artistic, religious, sport, entertainment, gambling activities have been suspended as well as spa treatment and personal care treatments in enclosed spaces. Medical interns specializing in emergency medicine, anesthesia and ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and infectious diseases will suspend their training in the sections in which they were distributed and will be included in the day and night shifts of hospital sections according to their specialization. Medical students starting with the 4th year of study and 2nd year students of sanitary schools will be recruited, based on volunteering, to give a hand in the Emergency Rooms in case of overcrowding of medical units.
Also, all flights linking Romania to Spain have been suspended for 14 days starting on March 18. At the same, the measure that suspends flights to and from Italy for 14 days, as of March 23, has been extended. The main rail operator in Romania will temporarily suspend international train linking Romania to Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova.
The Romanian government increases penalties for those who violate rules imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19
The Romanian government has decided to increase penalties for those who do not observe the home isolation rules or who lie or misinform the authorities in relation to the area where they traveled. The offence of thwarting the efforts to combat the spread of diseases is stipulated in the Criminal Code, which was altered though an emergency decree. The PM Ludovic Orban explained that the modifications were necessary given the great number of cases of people who broke the self-isolation measure or who lied to the authorities to avoid quarantining, hiding the fact that they were coming from a red coronavirus area. The new penalties include imprisonment of up to 15 years.
Measures of support for Romanian companies and employees affected by the pandemic
The executive in Bucharest has passed a series of measures in support of the private sector and the economy, in an attempt to contain the effects of the coronavirus epidemic. Measures are aimed at both the companies affected by imposed restrictions, as well a those feeling the negative effects caused indirectly by the crisis. The government has decided to raise the ceiling for guarantees for loans by SMEs by about a billion Euro, and to provide 75% of gross wages for people who are furloughed. The new measures come in the context in which large sized companies in Romania announced they would temporarily suspend activities for the protection of employees. Dacia, the Romanian branch of automaker Renault, has suspended on Thursday manufacturing at its main location in Mioveni up until April 5th, furloughing 13,500 employees. The car manufacture in Craiova, owned by American company Ford, also suspended activity on Thursday, and will get paid 78% of base wages. The Pirelli factory in Slatina has also gone on break, sending 4,000 employees on leave.
Bucharest supports the repatriation of Romanians abroad affected by the COVID-19 epidemic
Thousands of Romanians stuck between Austria and Hungary have returned home since the opening of the green corridor for crossing Hungary. Authorities in Bucharest announced they would allow Romanian citizens to go through Hungary to return home between 9 PM and 5 AM on designated routes. This agreement was reached on Wednesday by the Romanian and Hungarian foreign ministers. At the same time, the Foreign Ministry in Bucharest told the public that this week hundreds of Romanians stranded abroad by the pandemic have been repatriated, with help from the Ministry of Transportation as well. The Foreign Ministry has renewed its recommendation for everyone to avoid unnecessary travel abroad, and its appeal for Romanian citizens who find themselves abroad temporarily to urgently return home. The institution also called on Romanian citizens residing abroad to comply fully with the recommendations of authorities in the country they live in, and reiterated that traveling to Romania is not recommended. The Romanian president once again called on Romanians abroad to avoid visiting home for the upcoming holidays, because they are subject to quarantine measures.