As expected, Romania was supposed to be in an extended 30-day state of alert, which began on June 17th. But for a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the Government of Romania announced that the relaxation measures previously scheduled for July 1st would be postponed due to statistical data showing an increase in COVID-19 cases.
However, a number of relaxation measures entered into force on June 15th, allowing the shopping malls, fitness clubs and outdoor pools to reopen, as well as organizing private indoor events of no more than 20 people and outdoor events of no more than 50 people. On June 17th, the Government of Romania announced additional relaxation measures, including the reopening of public and private kindergartens, after-school programs, and indoor religious services, in compliance with social distancing health guidelines. It remained mandatory to wear a mask in closed public spaces, stores, public transportation and at the workplace.
In the matter of travelling, all persons arriving in Romania are subject to at-home quarantine except for certain professional categories and people entering after spending at least 14 days in certain countries with low COVID-19 case-growth. Also, the government has eased commercial flights and travel restrictions to 22 countries with documented COVID-19 case reductions as of June 30th, such as: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Croatia, Switzerland etc. TAROM and Wizz Air have resumed their flights to most of the destinations on a daily basis.
New sanctions from the 1st of July included the suspension of operating licenses for organizers of activities and events that do not comply with anti-COVID rules.
On July 15th, the Government of Romania approved the decision to extend the nationwide state of alert for an additional 30 days without imposing further restrictions. this decision was taken due to a weekly increase of COVID-19 cases which began in early June. On July 17th, Romania reached a number of 777 cases per day. On July 22nd, public health authorities placed two villages under quarantine, Cartojani (Giurgiu county), as well as Gornet (Prahova county).
On July 23rd, Romania reached a new high for single-day cases of 1112. the government went on with the same restrictive measures, including social distancing and face masks in closed spaces. On July 29th, the Government of Romania approved new restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. One measure was extended, making it mandatory to wear a mask even in some outdoor spaces such as bus stops, outdoor markets, outdoor events etc. From that point forward these were the only additions to the already existing measures.
New restrictions arrived at the beginning of August, such as having to always wear masks outdoors, and allowing the terraces to be open just until 11 PM. Specifically, “the sale and consumption of food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in specially designated areas between 23.00 and 05.00 will be prohibited”. Gambling venues will also be closed at the same time.
September 2020 – February 2021
the National Committee for Emergency Situations adopted Decision no. 43, which said that by September 1, the restaurants, cafes, and indoor buildings would be reopened. there was also an increase in the number of participants allowed at private events, mandating a maximum of 50 people for events held in indoor venues and 100 people for events held in outdoor venues. However, clubs remain closed.
the Ministry of Health published the epidemiological analysis by local administrative units which showed the rate of COVID-19 infections per thousand inhabitants, on which the reopening of schools by September directly depended. the reopening of schools was classified in three scenarios, depending on the rate of the population infected per thousand people in the respective city or commune, as following:
Beginning with November 9th, all school activities, regardless of the incidence rate, started being carried out according to the “red scenario”, meaning that all schools were closed and moved to online classes. Furthermore, the schedule of all stores and markets was established to be only until 9 p.m.
Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, the government proposed further preventive measures, forbidding going outside in the 11 PM – 5 AM interval. However, the following reasons were provided, as an exception: travel in the professional interest, including between the home/household and the place(s) where the work is carried out and back, travel for medical care that cannot be postponed or made remotely, as well as for the purchase of medicines, trips outside the localities of people who are in transit or make trips whose time interval overlaps with the period of the ban such as those made by plane, train, coach or other means of passenger transport and which can be proved by ticket or any other way of paying for the trip and travel for justified reasons, such as caring for/accompanying the child, assistance to the elderly, sick or disabled or death of a family member.
All economic operators were obliged to carry out their activities in the 5 AM – 9 PM interval, excluding gas stations, pharmacies, and couriers, which were allowed to work in their normal time frame, in compliance with the health protection requirements.
Romania has activated 400 million euros of pre-arranged financial support from the World Bank to help prevent and respond to the COVID–19 pandemic. the support covers a range of interventions to strengthen health services, minimise losses to both the public and private sectors and to safeguard lives and livelihoods.
The government has decided to reimburse VAT of up to RON 9 billion (EUR 1.87 billion) to allow companies to benefit from the working capital needed to operate.
The Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment launches the online ‘National Register of Producers’ of equipment, medical and non-medical devices, necessities for the population in the fight against COVID-19. the database centralizes all certified producers of medical equipment at the national level.
Although there were no new restrictions in sight for the holiday season, the public authorities did not ease any of the existing ones either.
On December 28th, the new Minister of Education, Sorin Cîmpeanu, announced the Ministry's intention to reopen schools starting February 8th, when the second semester would begin. This option was not a certain one, because the pandemic was not under control and that decision could be overturned by a high number of infected people, like any commitment of this type.
“From February 8th, when the second semester begins, most schools will reopen, given that the pandemic evolves approximately the same as in recent weeks”, the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, said, after three months of online-only classes and a significant decrease of COVID-19 cases.
On February 27th, taking into account the fact that national examinations were close, the Minister of Education proposed that students in terminal years, namely the 8th and 12th graders, attend school in a face-to-face format, regardless of the scenario being applied for all other students.
Current situation - vaccination process, recent restrictions, anti-covid restrictions protests
By the Decision of the Government of Romania no. 1031 of November 27th, 2020, the vaccination strategy against COVID-19 was approved, with three stages. The first stage of vaccination included health and social workers from both public and private systems. The second stage included the population at risk and workers who carry out activities in key, essential areas. The third stage targets the general population. On December 27th, the first stage of vaccination against the coronavirus started in Romania. On January 15th, Romania entered the second phase of the process of vaccinating against COVID-19.
According to data compiled by Bloomberg and quoted by RO Vaccinare - the official national platform for information on COVID-19 vaccination, Romania has one of the most efficient COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in the European Union. As of February 14th 2021 Romania ranks 4th in the EU for COVID-19 doses administered per 100 people and sixth for the average daily rate of doses administered.
Colonel Dr. Valeriu Gheorghiță, the coordinator of the national vaccination campaign, presented in a press conference on February 16th the results of the vaccination campaign so far, namely, the effectiveness of the vaccination activity in the first stage and, in part, in the second stage of vaccination. thus, “out of the approximately 250,000 people eligible for stage 1, on February 14, 2021, are in our records, vaccinated with two doses, 89.96% of them and, respectively, 98.84% with a single dose.” therefor, there was a big progress regarding the reduction of SARS-Cov-2 infection among medical and social workers, being able to observe a substantial decrease in the incidence rate of cases, by over 87.7%
Starting with March 15th, appointments for vaccination will be made only on the waiting list of one of the 435 centers that will be operational. Depending on the chosen category, a person over the age of 65, essential worker, chronically ill or member of the “general population” will arrive at a certain place on the list of the chosen center, with the possibility to view the number of people on the list.
Currently, over 1 million people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and almost 2 million people got at least one dose.
On 25th March 2021, the National Committee for Emergency Situations adopted Decision no. 20/25.03.2021, through which new stricter restrictions were introduced. The time interval in which people can move out of their homes/households without restrictions is reduced, with there being two different scenarios for this reduction depending on whether the incidence rate of COVID-19 infection is lower or higher. Also, regarding the time interval in which the activity of the economic operators carrying out trade/service activities in closed and open spaces, public and private is allowed, the two scenarios were kept. However, home delivery is allowed, regardless of the working scenario.
On March 28, 2021, after the entry into force of the last CNSU decision, thousands of Romanians expressed their frustration with the restrictive measures against the spread of the virus, starting a series of protests throughout the country. Those taking part in the march, many of whom did not wear masks or maintain a social distance from each other, demanded their freedom back and the immediate reopening of the schools, as well as the immediate resignation of the government. Most of the protest went down mainly peacefully, with a notable exception, when 12 policemen were injured in Bucharest after some demonstrators attacked them with fireworks, rocks and other objects. Almost 200 demonstrators were arrested and up until now the police levied 222 fines amounting to RON 200,000 (EUR 40,983).
Daily Cases (June 1st – March 31st)
Cases by age category (June 1st – March 31st)
Article written by Ștefan Pînzariu and Cristina Jelăveanu, students at the University of Bucharest, part of a series of articles under a collaboration between ASD and Všehrd.