In recent years, going to the mall has become something of a national pastime in Romania.
Come rain or shine, winter or summer, and especially at the weekends, crowds throng shopping malls_ buying, window shopping, people watching, or just hanging out.
Malls sprung up in Romania’s big cities as living standards rose and the country joined the European Union in 2007. Big fashion names and other retail brands moved in, tapping into a market hungry to buy international brands at home, rather than having to go abroad for shopping.
The coronavirus pandemic put an abrupt end to this popular pastime malls closed down in mid-March as a state of emergency was decreed. Crowds of people in close proximity in indoor spaces was seen as a way for the virus to rapidly spread.
Romania ended a strict lockdown on May 15 and began to relax the rules, and worse-case fears about a surge in fresh cases haven’t materialized.
There have been fewer than 200 cases a day for almost two weeks and on Tuesday, Romania reported 114 cases, the lowest daily count since March 23.
Government officials met members of the Investor and Real Estate Association on Tuesday to discuss the reopening of malls.
Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, Economy Minister Virgil Popescu announced that malls could reopen on June 15, provided the “epidemiologic situation” remained “favorable. “ That means they can open if there isn’t a rise in cases.
But there will be some restrictions. Cinemas, or multiplexes as they are known, won’t be allowed to reopen immediately, nor children’s playing areas.
“Easy does it. We’ll relax the measures to help revitalize the economy and get back to normal,” Popescu said.