Romania: Main opposition calls for tougher measures

Romania: Main opposition calls for tougher measures

All eyes are on the Military Decree No. 2 issued by the Interior Ministry on Saturday, 21st March to tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic, as it is found at the center of discussions and political controversy and provides for additional measures on travel restrictions for citizens; restriction of commercial activities; special measures for rituals and mysteries; restrictions on entry into Romania; and compliance with quarantine and self-isolation measures at home.

Romania is commencing a period of intense movement restriction starting Sunday 22 March at 10 pm. Thus, the operations of malls are restricted to the sale of food, veterinary or pharmaceutical products, while the operations of dentists are suspended with the exception of emergencies.

Night outdoor stays (between 10pm and 6am) must be justified by a signed statement from the person stating the reason and the date of the outing. Movement permits include professional obligations (when teleworking is not possible), commodity purchases, emergency medical outings, movements necessary to provide child care or to assist vulnerable persons, short commutes near the place of residence for physical activity to an individual basis, while any gathering of more than three people who do not live together is strongly discouraged. The certificate is required for daily movements (from 6am to 10pm) for the aforementioned reasons, but all other outings during the day are prohibited.

In addition, from Sunday 22 March at 10 pm foreigners will not be allowed entry to Romania, with the exception of EU nationals residing in Romania and their families, holders of a residence permit in Romania, business travelers and passengers in transit.

Reaffirming that “the absence of our loved ones is painful, but losing them could be tragic”, Minister of Internal Affairs Marcel Vela recalled that the authorities’ priority was “the life of Romanians” who have “experienced common wars, earthquakes and dictatorship”. Everything we decide through military orders aims at reducing the risks. They are endorsed by Prime Minister Orban and brought to the attention of President Iohannis. We have undertaken procedures to bring the necessary protective equipment to the country which was not in in stock in the state reserve.

Urging for responsibility, the head of the Emergency Situations Unit (DSU), Undersecretary of State Raed Arafat, said on Saturday following the announcement of Military Decree no. 2 that prevention was “the most important line of defense against coronavirus”, adding that the recommended measures regarding daily outdoor activities should be considered compulsory by the population. “Even if the Military Decree only recommends certain measures during the day, consider them compulsory. Be responsible and apply the rules of personal hygiene; avoid getting out of your homes if it is not necessary”, Raed Arafat said after presenting the measures envisaged by the Military Decree.

Interim Social Democratic Party (PSD) Chairman Marcel Ciolacu stated on Saturday that such measures could be more draconian, especially those involving the movement of citizens and are included in the military decree. “I believe that the political factor was taken into consideration again alongside the experts’ opinion. There is a big difference between recommendations and bans. I would be more rigorous and I would choose to put politics aside to allow experts to impose their points of view”. Ciolacu also said in a phone interview with Digi 24 that, as a politician, if he were in the position of Minister Marcel Vela, he would have left the two experts from the Internal Affairs Ministry, State Secretary Raed Arafat and Bogdan Despescu, “to impose” their opinion”.

The PSD President also stated that, given how transmittable and dangerous the novel coronavirus was, we should soon thank “not only the doctors, nurses and pharmacists, but also those who keep the stores open; the sellers who expose themselves to the danger of coronavirus”.

The USR also criticized the military decree. According to President Dan Barna, the measures are “very weak and meaningless, provoking hilarity because, instead of advising citizens and politely asking them to respect certain rules, those measures should have been imposed as mandatory, especially for seniors over 65 years”.

The leader of the Popular Party (PMP) Eugen Tomac was even harsher. “Now is the time to unleash the army and the police on the streets to arrest the hotheads”, he posted on Facebook. “We can always find excuses, but we must admit that no institution or state has taken this threat seriously. I have stressed since the January 29 European Parliament plenary that the population must be prepared for the crisis we are witnessing right at this moment. COVID-19 is decimating Europe; whole states are paralyzed; thousands of people are dying; now is the time to develop the army and the police to stop the insensitive ones. Stay at home, stop the spread of the devastating virus and save lives; we must understand that a common effort is needed now: restrictions apply to everyone without exceptions”, Tomac wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

Finally, Victor Ponta believes that the measures taken should be stricter. “Is it just my impression that politics has prevented Raed Arafat and Bogdan Despescu from adopting stricter measures?” He wondered in a post on his Facebook page

Poll on Romania’s measures to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus

The overwhelming majority of Romanians are in favor of the measures taken by the Romanian authorities to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus and address the negative effects on the economy, according to an INSCOP Research study conducted between 16 and 19 March 2020 title: “The public’s thoughts on the COVID-19 epidemic in Romania”. In this context, since Monday 16 March 2020,  when Romania declared a state of emergency, participants were asked whether they intended to comply with the measures taken by the authorities during this period. The overwhelming majority of responses (98.3%) were positive.

The army is the institution Romanians trust the most, with 88.2% stating they have great or very high trust in this institution. The Ministry of Health has the confidence of 77.5% of Romanians; the police follows with 72.1%, in front of the the European Union (62.1%), the Presidency (55.7%), the Municipalities (55, 4%), Government (43.3%) and Parliament (39.1%) ./ ibna