Parliament votes to allow malls and restaurant terraces to re-open in Romania under COVID-19 exit strategy

Foto: INQUAM/George Călin

Romanian lawmakers on Wednesday approved new rules which will come into effect next week when the country relaxes a strict lockdown which was put in place to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Lawmakers ignored rules laid out by the minority Liberal government and voted for a number of more relaxed measures which will become law following a two-month state of emergency.

Parliament voted to allow shopping malls which are less than 15,000 square meters to reopen on Friday when the state of emergency ends. Restaurants with open-air terraces can also reopen.

Under the bill, fines for breaking rules will be a maximum of 15,000 lei.

Romania’s state of emergency ends on Friday, and the state of alert will begin on Monday. President Klaus Iohannis needs to sign off on the bill.

Some officials expressed concerns about the new rules after two months of lockdown.

“If we start visiting people and having barbecues the day after tomorrow,  there is a risk of having new cases, and a new wave,” of infections said Raed Arafat, the head of the Emergency Situations Department.

Romanians will be obliged to wear masks in enclosed spaces in public such as in stores or on public transport according to the bill.

People can be fined between 500 and 2,500 lei for breaking the rules.

On Thursday, Romanian reported some 16,002 cases since the outbreak began in March, and 1,016 deaths.

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