Romanian Government

Thursday, 25 March

Press briefing by Prime Minister Florin Cîțu, Ministers Lucian Bode, Vlad Voiculescu, Sorin Cîmpeanu and Secretaries of State Raed Arafat and Andreea Moldovan at the end of the Cabinet meeting of March 25

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Florin Cîțu: Good evening! As you know, this week, we had several meetings - with the prefects, with the Association of Municipalities, Association of County Councils, with Bucharest's districts mayors and the mayor general. Today, we had a meeting with representatives of all the religious denominations in Romania. Today, in the Cabinet's meeting, we made some decisions which will help in the next period to reduce the pandemic, and these decisions were approved by a Government's decision. Secretary of State Raed Arafat will present them in detail. In the same meeting, today, we adopted some measures, which in fact, continue some decisions we made last year to back the business sector. I would like to especially mention that the exemption to the payment of the specific tax for HORECA is extended by another 90 days. Previously, it was extended until December. We extend this incentive for another 90 days. Further on – extending deadlines with tax incentives for taxpayers, restructuring tax debts, can be demanded until January 31, 2022. This measure was initiated in 2019, and the debtor’s obligation to file a request for restructuring in a maximum of 6 months since notification has been introduced, to avoid foreclosure. The taxpayers’ possibility to benefit from VAT reimbursement with subsequent control until January 31, 2022, was extended. This is the measure we have introduced last year, for the first time, in the emergency period, a measure that worked very well and we extend it until early next year. It is a measure that will help companies to receive cash –flow as soon as possible, and have access to money they take over from VAT as soon as possible, with subsequent control.

Extending the possibility for taxpayers to benefit from the wiping out of accessories caused by debts on condition of the payment of the main debt until January 31, 2022, and extending the possibilities for taxpayers to benefit from the simplified payment rescheduling until September 30, 2021. And these are also fiscal measures that we have taken today, which add to the other decisions we have taken, in support of entrepreneurs during this period. I would like to announce one more thing. By Government’s decision, we allocated the necessary amounts for the payment of meal vouchers for the miners who were on hunger strike in Suceava; we solved this problem too. This weekend, we will send another 50,400 doses of vaccine to the Republic of Moldova. You know very well, we committed to sending 200,000 doses, we are sending another 50,400 this weekend, therefore, things are moving forward. At the same time, I would like to let you know some information about the vaccination campaign because we have a schedule of vaccine doses that we have today, which we can detail. Things can change, but so far you know that when we draw the line, it has changed for the better because we expected to have 2.4 million doses by the end of March and at present, we have 2.6 million doses.

In April we will receive 4.5 million doses, in May, 4.97 million, almost 5 million doses, in June, 6.8 million, in July, 7.4 million, in August 8.1 and in September, 8.4 million. In total, by the end of September, we should have 25.7 million doses of vaccine in Romania, compared to what we initially estimated, 20.5 million doses, so, we have by 5 million doses more.

And I also looked at the vaccination platform. The number of people on the waiting list is only 771,663. I say "only" because, as things stand and we will have a vaccination capacity of 100,000 people a day, in the first week of April, this waiting list will be exhausted very quickly.

That is why I say that it is very important to keep the message for vaccination clear, because I hope we do not end up having extra doses and not vaccinating any longer, so, everyone must understand that if we want to get out of this period faster, we must get vaccinated.

 I told you how many doses are coming. If we look at the waiting list, it is clear that we will be left with some extra doses.  I could see it publicly and even this CNSU decision modifies a calculation formula. The Minister will explain more details to you here if you want it. I asked for information from CNCCI and INSP to see an alternative calculation for the two formulas and I could read the conclusion, which was also to be expected - the calculation method, there is only a delay of 3-5 days in finding that the incidence rate exceeds a certain threshold. By the new formula, calculation, selection of the calculation interval of the 14 days, the delay in observing that a threshold has been exceeded, is three days.

So, the idea is that the two formulas have no real significant implications, only that we are talking about a three-day delay, so it was nothing significant. But for accuracy, it may be a good idea to use them. In the end, this is the decision, but I wanted to reassure people, that it did not have any real implications that last year, other formulas were used, this year, there are other formulas.

Developments depend on whether we have more information, we can also update the formulas currently in use. And last but not least, I would like to say just one more thing before my colleagues address you. The measures we take today will surely lead to public debates.

I repeat and I have said it every time - Romania has today among the most relaxed measures in the European Union. Furthermore, my goal is to keep the economy open and only if we comply with these measures, there is no need to take other measures. The measures we are taking today are aimed at reducing the effects of the pandemic and giving us the opportunity to speed up the vaccination campaign so that we can return to normal as soon as possible. And I would submit a proposal to the Minister of Health, - and we will discuss it again afterwards because it was the discussion about schools - what to do with the children who are now going on holidays. And here is the Minister of Education, so together I would like you to look at this aspect, to look for resources and I help you find the resources so that the students can be tested when they return to school, with these non-invasive tests, let's test as many of them as possible after this holiday period.

And I will help you find the resources, but I think it is a good solution in order to keep the pandemic under control. This was the information I wanted to present to you. I invite Mr Raed Arafat to present the CNSU decision in detail, and later, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Internal Affairs will present you the legislative documents that have been approved today. Minister of Health, hope you also discuss the emergency ordinance as it is important, and we took measures that help the health system. I am ready to answer any of your questions next time, after the Cabinet meeting.

Thank you.

Raed Arafat: Good evening! Last week we had a meeting at the level of the technical-scientific group, which is the advisory group for the National Committee for Emergency Situations, where the current situation was discussed. Several measures have been proposed which were discussed today in the National Committee for Emergency Situations, resulting in the decision we have before us, Decision 20 of 2021. The measures that have been adopted are the following: firstly, regarding the time interval in which travel is allowed. Where the incidence will be over 4 per thousand in the last 14 days, during the weekend, namely on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, travel will be allowed only until 8:00 pm and not until 10:00 pm as it is now, and for economic operators, the activity should be allowed until 6:00 pm. The return on this measure during the weekend is made when the incidence falls below 3.5 per thousand. The second measure is: if the incidence exceeds 7.5 per thousand. Then travel will be allowed until 8:00 pm throughout the week, and economic operators will operate until 6:00 pm, also throughout the week, and the return on this measure will be when the incidence falls below seven per 1 thousand. At the same time, the Ministry of Health and the line ministries are authorized by this decision to issue or modify existing orders, so that it is very clear to economic operators, such as shops, supermarkets, hypermarkets, what will be the number of people who will be allowed inside and how compliance with this measure will be controlled. This is expected to be clarified, as I said, at the ministerial level. For the night of March 27-28, Saturday and Sunday, the measure will be extended until 10:00 pm, for people who will participate and travel to participate in religious services officiated for the Passover holiday. This is for the 27th, Saturday, and 28th, Sunday,  when travel is allowed until 10:00 pm, instead of 8:00 pm, only for people who meet the exceptions that are provided in the government decision or who attend the Passover feast. For the night of April 3 to April 4, the movement of people outside the home or household will be allowed between 08:00 pm and 02:00 am for travel and attendance of religious services that are occasioned by the celebration of Catholic Easter. It was also discussed the period of Orthodox Easter, May 1 - May 2, when hours of attendance of religious service are established, and there will be no limitations, but this will not appear in the government decision, because the current Decision is valid until April 14, and the regulation for the Orthodox Easter will appear in the next Government Decision, extending the State of Alert.

Also, the activity of the economic operators carried out in closed spaces in the field of sports/fitness halls in the localities where the cumulative incidence of the cases in the past 14 days is higher than 4 per 1,000 inhabitants will be suspended and resumed when the incidence falls under 3.5 per 1,000 inhabitants.

Also within the CNSU Decision, was approved the list of countries or areas or territories that are at high epidemiological risk, which we call the countries under the yellow code. The novelty here is that Great Britain is no longer on this list, it will be possible to travel without quarantine from Great Britain to Romania. These measures, as the Prime Minister also said, are meant to reduce mobility and contact, in order to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These measures are becoming mandatory and are no longer discussed or debated in committees. This means that when an incidence is reached, the measure automatically enters on the basis of that incidence. When the incidence falls below the figure we mentioned, the measure rises instantly and this will simplify things for the localities and areas that fall under these incidences. There is also the aspect regarding the calculation of the incidence, I will let Minister Voiculescu explain it because it was proposed by the Ministry of Health. If you have questions...