Hopes that Romanians would be able to celebrate the New Year with feasts and fireworks were dashed after a government official said measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus would run into the new year.
Raed Arafat, who heads the Department for Emergency Situations, said the state of alert which restricts people’s movements would be extended on Monday.
Under the state of alert, restaurants with indoor seating are closed, concerts are canceled and there is a curfew from 11pm to 5am.
New Year’s Eve is one of the most popular celebrations in Romania. People attend parties that go on until dawn and watch firework displays as they welcome the new year.
Thousands gather to watch firework displays that welcome in the New Year or attend open-air concerts.
In the countryside, people put on masks and dress up as goats, horses and bears and use bells or whips in the villages which is connected to the belief that these noises cast out evil spirits.
Dr. Arafat said Romanians should not go carol singing or attend parties or make too many visits.
“There won’t be street parties. There won’t be festivities,” he said. “Those that come in contact with a lot of people put them at risk.”
“Christmas carols should be avoided, even if it is a tradition, going from house to house, give it a miss as the risk of infection is too high.”
“We can enjoy the New Year, respecting the rules,” he said.
One activity that will be allowed over the holiday season is skiing, although restrictions will apply to hotels and restaurants.
”Over the holidays, think of your health, or your family’s health and elderly people. Try not to meet too many people,” he said.
One tradition that won’t be affected by the pandemic is the traditional pre-Christmas sacrificing of pigs, he said.