Romanian Government

Tuesday, 17 March

Statements by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban at the videoconference with the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis and the Ministers in charge of managing the COVID -19 epidemic

[Check against delivery]


Ludovic Orban: Mr. President, dear colleagues, we have some clear directions for action. The most important objective is to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection. To contain the spread, we consider taking different categories of measures. We know very well that there is a higher probability of a community spread of the infection. So far, almost all cases concerned persons coming from abroad, especially from Italy, there are very few cases of infection spreading in the community.

It is obvious that there is a high risk of community spread and then, we need to take gradually all possible measures, to mitigate the risk of community spread of the virus. These measures in addition to the restrictions we have already imposed – limiting public gathering to 50 persons, closing certain categories of public activities, will have to be very carefully analyzed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Committee for Special Emergency Situations, to lead to immediate effects.

We mobilized for a few objectives: increasing diagnostic capacity. This requires the inventory of all devices nationwide, the purchase of new devices, and the increase of the number of specialists involved in the diagnosis and, of course, ensuring supplies in order to cope with an increased diagnostic capacity.

Secondly, we faced a crisis, in fact a shortage of protective equipment. In this respect, we act in several directions, we use all possible channels to obtain this protective equipment. We are compelled to obtain most of it from abroad, as Romania did not have production capacity. On the other hand, we are trying to identify Romanian manufacturers who can produce in Romania, biocidal products, disinfectants, masks, protective garments and all other categories of equipment that are needed.

Thirdly, we will also need to institute some rules regarding work organization by all employers, so as to mitigate the infection risk at the workplace. In this respect, we will have to establish some clear rules through the Labor Territorial Inspectorate and the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior. Of course, we cannot currently provide the necessary protective equipment for employees, but there is a set of measures that can be taken to mitigate the risk of infection until we procure the additional amounts of protective equipment that we can give to the employers.

We also aim at increasing the accommodation capacity.

Mr President, at the border between Austria and Hungary, as you well know, there are thousands of Romanians who were stopped at the Hungarian border, because of the decision of the Hungarian government. Mr. Aurescu, through his interventions, seems to have managed to get from the Hungarian government the possibility for Romanians to resume transit on Hungary’s territory. This also means that thousands of people will arrive in Romania this evening or tomorrow, people who will have to be accommodated in quarantine centres or should enter home isolation.

Also, the situation in Italy is becoming even more critical and here we will have to find a solution. Either we help the Romanians left there, deprived of means of subsistence, by allocating some resources to ensure their subsistence there, or we create a transport corridor, most probably by air, it cannot be achieved by road, but this will also increase the need to have additional quarantine accommodation places.

Obviously, decent living standards should be secured in quarantine spaces, we need the involvement of local authorities with clear obligations in this respect, and sanctions should be applied to those who fail to get involved, in checking the observance of home isolation, as it is again a point we will have to tackle very firmly.

Last but not least, the set of measures we are about to adopt is important for giving a coherent and suitable answer to the challenges we are facing in the economy because of the coronavirus effects.

We think it is important for the economy to work, for people to go to jobs, for the companies that can carry out their activity in normal conditions, to do it, so that the economy is least affected. On the other hand, we have clear signals from a lot of activity sectors that the situation of a sudden death of a business is reached in the field of tourism, in the hotel industry field, by restaurants, events / shows organizers, and here we will need to clearly take measures to provide protection for both employers and employees.

We intend to adopt a first set of measures on tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting, that we consider to be absolutely necessary, with clear beneficial effects, and we are going to consult later the business sector, employers, trade unions, professional associations in order to identify other categories of measures to be taken.