PM Ludovic Orban vows to contain spread of the coronavirus with new measures. ‘We’re in a state of maximum alert’

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea

Nervous about a spike in new coronavirus cases as Romania eases out of a lockdown, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Monday urged authorities and ordinary people to pull together in a national effort to keep the virus from spreading.

“In the immediate future, all ministers have to get themselves ready. Police, local police too, have to get involved to make sure the rules are respected,” Orban said.

Under the state of alert, parks and shops have reopened and Romanians no longer have to fill out forms when they leave home explaining why they’re out as long as they stay near their homes.

Authorities however are concerned cases will soar, after Romanians flocked to parks and open spaces over the weekend, and people began shopping, going to the hairdressers and the dentists, after restrictions were lifted on Friday when a two-month state of emergency ended.

“Most people have respected the rules,” Orban said Monday. “ We have to protect ourselves from a minority who don’t seem to understand and are flouting the rules,” he said. “We have to be on the side of people who are honest and responsible.”

Starting Friday, masks are mandatory in indoor public places, such as offices, on public transport or in shops. People are asked to keep a 1.5 meter distance between themselves and other people.

On Monday, Romania had confirmed more than 17,000 cases of COVID-19  since the outbreak. There were 190 cases in the last 24 hours and no deaths, relatively low figures.

“If we manage to control the spread of the virus, chances of returning to normal are greater,” Orban said, adding that authorities were waiting until June 1 to make sure there wasn’t a spike in cases.

Flights have been suspended to high-risk countries, including Italy, France, Britain, Turkey and Iran, and people arriving from some countries need to go into quarantine for 14 days,

Looking beyond the immediate period, air travelers will need to wear a mask and arrive at the airport three hours before their scheduled departure, according to new government rules on air transport.  

Passengers will be encouraged to check-in online and, as where possible will be seated in family groups.

Crew members will receive protective equipment, and pilots will wear a mask if they leave their cabin.

Flight attendants will disinfect their hands after every interaction with passengers. Ground staff will not be allowed inside the cabin on layovers, except for cleaning and technical personnel.

On board service will be suspended or limited depending on the level of risk and aircraft will be disinfected after every route. Printed materials, except for the safety instructions and the bag, will be eliminated. 

Floors will be marked to mark physical distancing, and check-in counters will open three hours before the flight. 

Airport managers will introduce procedures to ensure that physical distancing is maintained between passengers on the bus to and from the airport, with the bus operating at a maximum level of half-full.

Areas of high traffic will be disinfected more frequently with disinfectant dispensers placed throughout the airport. 

Authorities will check passengers’ temperatures and decide what to do with those who have a fever.

Passengers will be required to wear masks on trains and on the subway for the duration of the trip, and passengers will be encouraged to buy tickets online.

Railway carriages will be cleaned and disinfected before every trip. People will be segregated to different areas of the railway station to stop avoid overcrowding. 


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