Romania: State of alert receives 30-day extension – New measures to further ease restrictions

Romania: State of alert receives 30-day extension – New measures to further ease restrictions

Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said on Tuesday that a unanimous decision had been adopted by the National Committee for Special Emergency Situations to extend the state of emergency throughout the country for a period of 30 days, starting June 17, 2020. New relaxation measures were also introduced.

“Since yesterday we have recorded 166 new cases; today we had 250 new cases, 10 deaths since yesterday and more than 4,500 cases of active infections, and in this context we have decided to extend the alert for an additional 30 days”, said Health Minister Nelu Tataru in a press conference at the Government House (Victoria Palace). “At the same meeting, following the decision of the National Committee for Emergency Situations, we decided to ease restrictions on some activities”, said Nelu Tataru. The Minister of Health also added that kindergartens, nurseries and daycare schools would continue their activities during the summer after a series of measures and rules that will be implemented to ensure social distancing and health protection. The government has also decided on the resumption of operations for gyms. He stressed that the resumption of services and ceremonies inside churches will be done by keeping social distancing and wearing protective masks. As the Minister noted, in case of physical exercise outdoors, the same conditions of hygiene and social distancing will apply. “Every private event held indoors should not exceed 20 people or 50 if it takes place outdoors”, the minister said. Finally, Mr. Tataru added that the next bundle of relaxation measures could be adopted after July 1st.

For his part, Undersecretary of the Interior Raed Arafat presented, after the government meeting, the reasons behind this proposal to extend the state of alert. “After a very detailed analysis of the current situation, despite the fact that we have a downward curve, there are indications that the situation may worsen at any time. (…) We have seen increases that have exceeded 300 cases in 24 hours”, said Raed Arafat.

In response to the government’s decision, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) said yesterday that it still did not agree with the alert being prolonged, especially given the fact that hospitals remain closed to patients facing chronic diseases. However, the Romanian media reported this morning that the PSD would consider not condemning the extension of the state of alert in the form proposed by the Orban government. The decision of the Social Democrats is based on the fact that according to no. 55 Law of 2020, it is not specified whether the extension of the state of alarm requires the consent of Parliament. In fact, the government sent its decision “for information” (B1TV) to Parliament, which the Parliament’s leadership challenges in a letter to the Prime Minister.

For his part, Save Romania President Dan Barna told rfi.ro that his party could support the extension of the alert, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic: “I have said repeatedly that we need data and information to study the need to prolong the alert. Unfortunately, we have not received any additional information, but it is also a fact; the state of the pandemic seems to confirm that we are not safe (…) We will have a discussion with colleagues within the day”.

For his part, Pro Romania Party President Victor Ponta spoke on television Tuesday night against the continuation of the state of alert announced by the liberal government. The former prime minister said Romania was the only country in the European Union with increased restrictions. “In Paris or Rome, we can go to a restaurant”, said Ponta./ibna.