Policy responses for Romania - HSRM


Policy responses for Romania

1. Preventing transmission

The section on PREVENTING TRANSMISSION includes information on key public health measures that aim to prevent the further spread of the disease. It details how countries are advising the general public and people who (might) have the disease to prevent further spread, as well as measures in place to test and identify cases, trace contacts, and monitor the scale of the outbreak.

1.1 Health communication

On May 15 the Government launched a national public information campaign to support efforts to prevent and limit the COVID-19 epidemic, and to inform the public, over the next four months, on measures related to restarting economic and social activities, following the end of the State of Emergency (the country entered the State of Alert on 15 May). The campaign is funded from the State budget and replaces the request for free advertising of COVID-19 prevention measures imposed on the media companies during the State of Emergency (see 1.1 Health communication). All national and local written, audio-visual, and online media providers, as well as the advertising companies are entitled to participate within the limits of the established budget. Specific rules apply, and the budget share is proportionate to the audience share. The advertising space is added to the legally established duration considered for commercial advertising.

The Government has continued to fund the public information campaign during the successive extensions, every 30 days, of the State of Alert. At the beginning of July, 364 mass-media companies (TV, radio, online, written, advertising) registered as participating providers. The Government Emergency Ordinance, endorsed by law in August, extended the communication campaign until the end of 2020. Mass-media companies can apply for contracts or renew existing ones until October 31.

The Government of Romania responded early to the pandemic. In January 2020, the National Centre for the Surveillance and Control of Communicable Diseases published information about the new virus on its website, including information on transmission and measures to prevent infection. The first measures that were communicated were: hygiene practices (including on washing hands correctly, coughing, and sneezing), physical distancing, and symptoms where people should ask for medical advice or share information on recent trips abroad. There were also tips for people returning from affected areas, namely that if they had any symptoms, they should contact airport medical staff immediately or, if symptoms emerged within 14 days of their journey, they should wear protective masks and call the emergency number. 

On February 24, a dedicated phone line run by the National Institute for Public Health was set up to respond to public queries about symptoms, illness trajectory, and preventing virus transmission. A second dedicated phone line was also established for diaspora citizens abroad, including those planning to return to Romania.

An extensive communication campaign on all media channels has been run since February 2020.  On 27 February National Audio-visual Council (NAC) recommended that all public and commercial televisions should broadcast information hourly on measures to prevent the spread of the virus, using the materials developed by the Government, and this has been done ever since. Frequent press briefings, official speeches, and opinions of leading physicians have been broadcast daily on all TV channels since March 2020.

Early on the Government developed accurate communication materials on preventing transmission of the virus. There are several official websites, including a government webpage dedicated to COVID-19 (https://stirioficiale.ro/informatii; https://www.mai.gov.ro/utile; https://cetrebuiesafac.ro;  https://fiipregatit.ro/ghiduri;  https://www.cnscbt.ro/index.php/info-populatie). The websites of most public ministries and institutions focus on preventing transmission. However, combating fake news is also a priority for officials, as are legal measures and understanding the disease trajectory in Romania. Supermarkets broadcast messages to prevent transmission and to promote responsible behaviour by clients, such as by using hand disinfectants and engaging in physical distancing. Supermarkets also make disinfectants available to their customers to use before entering.

From March 29, the dissemination of public messages to support the Government in preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 has become mandatory for all public and private media operators and was added to the commercial advertising space. Later, it became mandatory for the audio-visual media providers to regularly broadcast information about the changes brought by the successive military ordinances for at least 2 days after their publication in the Official Gazette.

Government Emergency Ordinance No 63/2020 for organizing and conducting public information campaigns in the context of the COVID-19 epidemiological state  
Law No. 164/2020 approving the Government Emergency Ordinance No.63/2020 for organizing and conducting public information campaigns in the context of the COVID-19 epidemiological state