President Klaus Iohannis issued a fresh appeal to Romanians ahead of Easter, urging them to celebrate the feast at home with their immediate family, a sacrifice he said was necessary to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We hear on the news that there are some countries that are relaxing restrictions,” he said on Wednesday. “We are not yet at that point. The number of cases are growing and people needing emergency treatment is growing.”
Romania has registered more 4,700 cases and 208 deaths since the outbreak began, authorities said Wednesday. The pandemic is expected to peak in the next two weeks.
Mindful of that and of the sunny weather, Iohannis said: „If we think that the nice weather will get rid of the virus, we’ll get to a point where the (lockdown) measures will have to be extended for months on end and nobody wants that.”
Iohannis latest warning came ahead of Easter which is celebrated by Catholic and Protestants this weekend. The majority of Romanians are Orthodox Christians and Eastern Rite Catholics which celebrate the feast a week later on April 19.
Iohannis, a member of the Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession in Romania, the German-speaking Lutheran church in Transylvania, said he would celebrate Easter on Sunday. “I will stay at home with my wife, Carmen,” he said. “We won’t go to church, we won’t go to receive the light (from church) and we won’t invite anyone for a meal. We will light a candle in our house and pray.
“I expect you all to do that,” he cautioned.
His address on Wednesday came after the powerful Romanian Orthodox Church on Tuesday said there would be no public Easter services this year due to restrictions about public gatherings. Some 87% of Romanian are Orthodox believers.
“If we let this epidemic get out of hand, it could get very serious indeed,” Iohannis said.