FROM 2000 TO 3000 INFECTIONSThe pandemic, near a new threshold, in just a week

Adelina Toader, Emilia Olescu
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 8 octombrie 2020

Romania seems to be following in the footsteps of countries Covid-19 where it had an alert evolution. After, in the last day of September, the number of people tested positivewith the new coronavirus has exceeded the level of 2000, the biggest number of Covid-19, the biggest Covid-19 number of cases was 2.958. This level means 10.62% of the total 27,849 tests conducted, a ratio which lately has had a constant increase, of 5% in the beginning. The ratio of cases that tested positive show a few peaks, with the highest being on September 28 (20.63%), and October 5 (24.34%).

The number of cases SARS - CoV - 2 begun picking up speed after the beginning of the schools and immediately after the local elections. President Klaus Iohannis said, last night, that it wasn't the local elections that led to the increase of COVID-19 cases and that this evolution may be related to the after-election parties. Speaking about the parliamentary elections, the president thinks that voting is no more dangerous than going to buy bread. Iohannis says that the accelerated evolution of the number of cases that tested positive is extremely worrisome and represents a serious warning, and said that restrictions are unavoidable.

According to information confirmed by official sources, most of the outbreaks had been identified, a few days ago in some residential centers for children and the elderly, in healthcare units, in public and education institutions, as well as in some companies. The HoReCa and gambling industry have protested against the decisions made in Bucharest, and dispute them. President Klaus Iohannis last night said that the measures concerning the closing of theaters and cinemas were made by the authorities on the recommendations of the experts.

According to data published online, only one outbreak has been identified in HoReCa. However, the measures taken the other day by the authorities were the closure of restaurants and cafes in Bucharest, as well as the closure of casinos, theaters and cinemas. The measures taken in Bucharest came immediately after the Iaşi County Committee for Emergency Situations (CJSU) decided, on Monday, to ban access to restaurants, cafes and suspend shows and cinemas from October 6th to the 12th. The HoReCa industry and the gambling sector have protested against the decisions taken at the level of the Capital, contesting these decisions. President Klaus Iohannis said last night that measures to close theaters and cinemas had been taken by authorities on the advice of experts.

Bucharest authorities have declared the mandatory wearing of masks near schools. Gheorghe Cojanu, prefect of Bucharest has mentioned that for now, no such measure will be taken, and if the rate of cases reaches three, then extreme measures will be taken, including the quarantining of sectors and even the quarantining of some neighborhoods.

Up until yesterday, October 7, Romania had 142,570 cases of infection with 111,564 patients being declared healed and 5203 deaths.

Hard reactions from the HoReCa industry, after the closing of restaurants

The HoReCa industry is facing a new crisis after the authorities have decided to close down restaurants in Bucharest, starting yesterday. Even though the engines of the industry had just been restarted and the market units had begun getting accustomed to the imposed new safety conditions, now the industry is getting a new blow, and many accommodations are in danger of closing down their gates.

The decision of the Government has created new discontent among organizations in the sector that have disputed the measure made by the Government and have even protested in Victoriei Square in Bucharest.

The Professional Association of Hotels and Restaurants in Romania (HORA) sent on Tuesday, an official address to government officials asking them to give the industry a fair treatment.

The representatives of the industry have agreed that they will follow the measures, but that they will be suing the government if it doesn't explain and prove why it made the decision to close down cafes and restaurants, as according to information from official sources, in the HoReCa only one outbreak has been identified.

The letter is addressed to Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, Minister of Internal Affairs Marcel Vela, Health Minister Nelu Tataru, Minister of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, Virgil-Daniel Popescu, Labor Minister, Violeta Alexandru, MEEMA Secretary of State Răzvan Pîrjol, Secretary General of the Government, Ionel Dancă, Prefect of Bucharest, Gheorghe Cojanu and Robert Viorel Chioveanu of the ANSVSA.

HORA warns that because of the pandemic crisis and the restrictive measures introduced by the authorities, the HoReCa industry is currently the most affected, both locally and internationally, seeing a sudden decline which led to a nearly 80% drop in turnover and led to the suspension of activity in the case of almost 40% of the operators.

The official address states: "Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the HORECA industry had nearly 40,000 companies with a 100% Romanian capital and a turnover of 5 billion Euros a year and approximately 400,000 employees. The industry was also significantly contributing to the evolution of companies in related segments, such as agriculture, local ingredient makers, makers and manufacturers and distributors of raw materials in the kitchen, importers and distributors of food products, service providers dedicated to the industry, as well as management systems, cleaning, transport, logistics, packaging".

HORA states that it supports the development of a healthy environment for the business in the hospitality industry and wants the objective evaluation of the proposal made by the CNSU regarding the restrictions of restaurants' activity in Bucharest.

The organization is asking the authorities to consider the following aspects:

Please consider the following aspects:

1. The re-opening of the restaurant terraces on June 01, 2020 did not lead to an increase in the number of people infected with COVID in the subsequent period;

2. The re-opening of indoor restaurants interior on September 09, 2020 did not lead to an increase in the number of infected people in the immediate aftermath;

3. No Covid outbreaks have been found or exist in restaurants;

4. There is no study that unequivocally certify that restaurants can spread the virus more than other activities;

5. Restaurants are and have been a well regulated area where, since the re-opening of terraces, security measures and sanitary protocol are very strictly complied with.

There have been cases where the existing sanitary-veterinary measures have not been complied with or applied correctly, HORA is in line with the authorized entities and thinks that the harshest measures need to be applied.

HORA stresses that every operator follows the sanitary protocol and the existing safety measures.

"We think that restricting the operation of restaurants, the closing of the hospitality industry will not resolve the sanitary issue in Bucharest and will not stop the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus. A well regulated environment, a well-regulated industry and one which complies with all the rules and measures imposed for our own safety, has a real chance of a contributing to keeping the spread of COVID under control and allowing a return to normalcy", the Organization says.

Employees in the industry have mobilized on social networks, where they were announcing: "We are protesting against the blaming of HoReCa for the spread of Covid. We believe in the existence of this virus, we understand the gravity of the situation, but we can't agree with dealing with things using half measures or without an evidence backed analysis of the outbreaks".

Călin Ile, the president of the Federation of the Hotel Industry in Romania (Federaţia Industriei Hoteliere din România - FIHR), recently told BURSA that the HoReCa industry accounted for 0.9% of the economic growth of 4.6% seen in the first semester. He said that extrapolating to the whole year, the contribution of HoReCa to the economic GDP contraction would amount for 1.8%, which would be enormous.

At the same time, the president of The FIHR president also said that the businesses in HoReCa saw a 70% contraction in the first six months of the year.

The economic effects will be devastating for the industry if the Government does not come up with support measures.

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