It is an image of modern-day Romania. Hundreds of thousands of Romanians who live in western Europe returning home at Christmas and Easter to be with family and friends.
But this year, the coronavirus pandemic means many will be forced to give the custom a miss, as Europe enters a lockdown and Romania, currently under a 30-day state of emergency, battles to stem the spread of the disease.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis made an appeal to Romanians on Thursday, ahead of the holidays, exhorting them to stay where they have made their lives.
“Easter holidays are coming near. I have to tell you with sadness, but also sincerity to not come home this year for the holiday,” he said.
“Europe is basically under a lockdown. It’s very, very complicated,” he said.
“Romanians who live outside the country are dear to us. We want to see them, we want to be together, but this year, in these holidays, we can’t.”
„Coming back to Romania for Easter has no sense…. Because methods recommended by the best specialists are 14 days quarantine for people who come from countries where there are more than 500 cases,” he said.
There are an estimated one million Romanians living in Italy, and 865,000 Romanians in Spain and some 650,000 in Germany. Most migrated after Romania joined the European Union in 2007 to find better-paid jobs.
In related developments, the manager of the Matei Bals Hospital for infectious diseases, Adrian Streinu Cercel, claimed 200,000 Romanians that had entered Romania had avoided quarantine and self-isolation. “20% have evaded isolation and quarantine.”
It was unclear where he got his figures from which do not correlate with official figures.
He predicted there would be two waves of infections, one after Western Easter which is celebrated by Catholics and Protestants on April 12, and the other a week later, after Orthodox Easter.
Some 87% of Romanians belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church.