Policy responses for Romania - HSRM


Policy responses for Romania

1.2 Physical distancing

Physical distancing measures continue during the State of Alert (i.e. since 15 May; see Transition measures: Governance). Borders remain closed for foreign citizens and the stateless, with some exceptions: family members of Romanian citizens, EU-EEA citizens with residence or long-term visa, diplomats, international organizations personnel, transit and emergencies. For the Romanian citizens who return to the country, the authorities may organize special transport. People with temporary working contracts abroad may travel abroad, and the recruiting agencies can organize special road or air transport.

Movement outside the residence in the metropolitan area is forbidden. Exceptions are: professional travel, need for medical care, humanitarian causes, agriculture including the sale of agri-food products, individual outdoor activities, family events and purchase of personal or professional goods. For traveling outside the residence area, the authorities request an affidavit. The level of fines in the event of contraventions remains high, aimed to discourage the unnecessary travel outside the residence area.

Starting on 23 June, 22 EU/EEA States have been considered as “green zone” countries and the 14 days mandatory at-home isolation was revoked for these countries (https://www.cnscbt.ro/index.php/liste-zone-afectate-covid-19/1823-lista-statelor-exceptate-de-la-masura-de-carantina-22-06-2020/file). Countries in the green zone are: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic,  Cyprus, Croatia, Swiss Confederation, Estonia, Finland, France (only the European territory), Germany (except for Kreis Gutersloh district which is in the “yellow zone”), Greece, Ireland, Island, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary. All other countries are considered as “yellow zone” countries and all asymptomatic individuals returning from an international journey to these countries must comply with the mandatory 14 days at-home isolation.
For the train, bus, subway stations and airports, the administrators must take the necessary measures to avoid overcrowding and to assure 1.5m distance between people, to provide regular disinfection, and to repeatedly inform travellers to protect themselves. For each type of transport, specific measures are in place.

Outdoor recreational and sporting activities (such as cycling, hiking, running, boating, mountaineering, hunting or fishing) are allowed for a maximum of three people who do not live together.

Inside the place of residence, pedestrian groups, who do not belong to the same family, cannot be larger than three people.

Private indoor events can accommodate a maximum of eight people who must comply with the rules of physical distancing (1.5-2 meters).

Public institutions and private businesses where the population has indoor access, must reorganize their spaces to assure a minimum area of 4 sqm for each client/person and a minimum distance of 2 meters between any two close individuals.

All public and private employers must develop internal rules to assure safe conditions for the employees returning to work after the end of the State of Emergency, and must limit the access to common areas, ensuring compliance with the physical distancing rules. Employers, in particular those with more than fifty employees, must organize the daily working schedule within a three-hour difference of arrival/departure of the employees, to prevent people from cluttering together. The recommendations are that open space offices must assure at least 1.5-meter distance between employees, face-to-face dividers should be installed in workplaces, and lunch breaks should be staggered, in order to assure the 2-meters physical distancing.

Religious services can accommodate a maximum of sixteen individuals. For the indoor service, the rules are to assure 4 square meters per person, with a 2-meter distance between two individuals. For outdoor religious services, the rules ask for 1.5 meters of physical distancing.

Measures introduced on 1 June:
• Restrictions of movement outside the residential / metropolitan area are lifted;
• International railway and road transport of individuals is resumed through regular, special, and occasional services, in compliance with preventive measures instated during the State of Alert;
• Outdoor restaurants open for the public, with a maximum of four individuals per table and a two-meter distance between the tables;
• Beaches are opened, provided that sunbeds are situated two meters apart for individuals not belonging to the same family;
• Outdoor concerts, public and private festivals, and other outdoor cultural events are allowed for up to 500 participants wearing face masks and observing the 2-metre physical distancing rule;
• Drive-in shows are permitted under specific health regulations, if attendants are members of the same family;
• Outdoor sporting competitions, which are not attended by the public, can be organized in compliance with specific preventive measures. Persons attending outdoors sports competitions (sportsmen, officials, media, staff) must respect the 2-metre physical distancing rule and wear facemasks. Procedures to identify and contain suspected cases are put in place. Contact sports competitions are not yet permitted. 

Starting with June 15, when the State of Emergency was replaced with the State of Alert, the maximum number of people who do not belong to the same family who are allowed to take part in outdoor recreational activities was increased to six people. Likewise, pedestrian groups of up to six individuals who do not belong to the same family have been allowed. Indoor events can accommodate up to a maximum of 20 people who must wear masks and comply with the rules of physical distancing (1.5-2 meters).

The State of Alert was successively extended, every 30 days, until October 14 (see Section 5. Governance, including transition measures). During the entire State of Alert, physical distancing measures remain in place, including closure of national borders and mandatory use of face masks in closed public spaces, commercial spaces, public transport, and at places of work.

The extension of the State of Alert on 17 July largely upheld changes to the restrictions introduced in June but the number of people participating in outdoor recreational activities who are not members of the same family was increased to ten people and to 50 people for private events in open spaces.

Gradually, due to the daily increase in the number of cases countrywide, the counties were entrusted with taking decisions on the local restrictions. Since 31 July, each county can mandate the use of face masks in crowded open spaces during certain hourly intervals. Many counties have introduced this requirement during fairs, public or religious celebrations, at bus and train stations, and in any other places where people congregate. Children under five are excepted. 

On 28 August, special physical distancing measures were put in place in preparation for the local and parliamentary elections on, respectively, September 27 and December 6, 2020: indoor meetings are limited to 50 people for two hours maximum; outdoor gatherings can accommodate up to 100 people and four square-meters per participant is mandatorily required; pedestrian groups can consist of up to six people walking together; and on the voting day, people must wear masks and organizers must ensure that a distance of at least 1-meter between every two people can be observed.

Since 1 September, cinemas and indoor events spaces in the counties where the cumulative SARS-CoV2 incidence is less than or equal to 1.5 per 1,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days are allowed to operate at a maximum of 50% of their capacity. Local authorities can restrict, close, and reopen all indoor cultural events at any time, based on the cumulative SARS-CoV2 incidence in the last 14 days. Indoor private events may host up to 50 people, while up to 100 people can gather at outdoor events. Training sessions and workshops allow up to 50 adults indoors and 100 outdoors, with physical distancing measures respected.

On 15 September, indoor restaurants, food courts, and cafeterias were opened to the public in the counties where the SARS-CoV2 cumulative incidence is less than or equal to 1.5 per 1,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, but strict physical distancing measures must be observed. Local authorities can restrict, close, and reopen all indoor cultural events anytime, based on the cumulative SARS-CoV2 incidence in the last 14 days.

Physical distancing was one of the measures recommended by the Government in its early communication campaign to prevent transmission of the infection issued in early March, in the document: “Fifteen measures concerning a socially responsible behaviour to prevent COVID infection”.

The Government introduced physical distancing measures early. On March 6, the Government banned all public and private events with more than 1,000 people held in open or closed spaces. Events with 200-1000 people were allowed with the approval of local health authorities. Between March 9 and March 13, new governmental decisions on physical distancing were gradually introduced. Schools closed on March 11. Activities with more than 50 people in closed spaces were then restricted. Public transport and commercial retailers were ordered to implement preventive measures, including physical distancing. Working from home was recommended to public and private employers, alongside mandatory rescheduling of the working hours to avoid public transport crowding.

On March 16 a 30-day a State of Emergency was declared by the President. On April 15 the State of Emergency was prolonged by further 30 days. This led to additional social distancing measures. On March 22, dentistry practices were closed, as were all non-essential retail stores (excluding business such as supermarkets and pharmacies).  Public religious services have been subsequently restricted, and pedestrian groups limited to three people. Freedom of movement was restricted except for work purposes (as decided by the employer); shopping for essential goods and medicines; medical care; short excursions close to home for exercise, and for care-giving duties provided to children, older people, sick people, people with disabilities; or in the agriculture sector (agricultural work and sale of agricultural products). People aged 65+ were allowed to leave homes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., for the reasons mentioned above, unless they work. From April 27, people aged 65+ were permitted to leave homes between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. In order to leave their homes for work purposes, people either need a certificate from their employer or a standard signed statement declaring a justification. Police checks and substantial fines are common practice.

Commercial flights to and from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the USA have been suspended until May 14. During the State of Alert, which started on 15 May (see Transition measures: Governance), commercial flights and international road passenger transportation remain suspended to and from Austria, Belgium, the Swiss Confederation, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, the United States of America and Turkey. Exceptions include occasional road transportation for Romanians who have a valid employment contract in the state of destination, a valid residence in the state of destination or that are returning to Romania from the state where they work or live.

Internal movement restrictions were established in the town of Suceava and eight surrounding rural communities on March 30, following a high number of infected people at Suceava county hospital. Later, military medical staff took over management of the hospital. On April 5, Tandarei town (Ialomita county) was quarantined, due to a high number of cases linked to people returning from abroad who did not comply with the self-isolation and quarantine recommendations.  On May 11 and May 13, the Government lifted the internal movement restrictions for the town of Tandarei, for the municipality of Suceava and the eight surrounding rural communities, through successive military ordinances.

The central authorities have followed the WHO/ECDC guidelines and recommendations to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and to control the outbreak. The WHO office in Romania provides regular updates on WHO guidelines and recommendations to the authorities.

https://www.mai.gov.ro/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/OM-11.pdf and https://www.mai.gov.ro/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/OM-12.pdf
Decision of the Government no. 476/2020 on the extension of the State of Alert in Romania and the measures to prevent and combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
Decision of the Government no. 553/2020 on the extension of the State of Alert in Romania starting on starting on July 17, 2020, and the measures to prevent and combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
Decision of the Government no. 668/2020 on the extension of the State of Alert in Romania starting on starting on August 16, 2020, and the measures to prevent and combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
Decision of the Government no. 782/2020 on the extension of the State of Alert in Romania starting on starting on September 15, 2020, and the measures to prevent and combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic