Romanian Prime Minister Florin Citu offered Romanians a glimmer of hope Monday saying the country could plan on a “return to normality” by the beginning of June.
The roadmap for easing Covid restrictions presented by the prime minister is the first concrete date given by the government.
However, he warned that “vaccination is the only solution,” to contain the pandemic, while the number of people who are currently registered to get a vaccine is only 700,000.
More than 2.13 million people have been inoculated in Romania by the end of Monday. .
The prime minister announced he was setting up a special, interministerial committee to prepare for reopening the economy and a return to normal life. He will coordinate the committee, he said.
“June 1 is the first step I see, (but) it doesn’t mean a 100% reopening,” he said.
He called on churches to play a role in getting things back to normal.
He didn’t specifically mention the influential Romanian Orthodox Church to which more than 85% of Romanians belong.
“At that point, many restrictions will be relaxed, but until that point the vaccine campaign needs to speed up. I’ve asked the church to get involved in the vaccine campaign.”
“The way things look today, we’ll have the necessary doses to inoculate 10 million Romanians by the end of July,” he said.
„But everyone has to get a jab. We’ve done everything possible. We were talking about the end of September, and now we think we can get 10 million vaccinated by the end of July.”
As new cases soared to over 6,000 a day, Romania introduced more restrictions such as an earlier curfew and shorter shopping hours in the capital and other areas with high numbers of virus cases.
The prime minister said the measures had led to a drop in cases in Bucharest in recent days, and a leveling off of cases in neighboring Ilfov. In Timis county western Romania, cases have fallen.
“I ask you to be patient. The measures work. We have data showing that the epidemiological situation has reached a plateau,” he said.
“There is pressure on the health care system right now. We can help only by complying with the measures and by vaccination,” he said.
Infectious disease experts internationally agree at least 70-85% of the country needs to become immune to starve the virus.
The prime minister said April and May were crucial months.
“In these two months, there will be 8 to 8.3 million doses of vaccine shipments. At the end of May in the most pessimistic scenario, this would mean almost 5 million people inoculated and in an optimistic scenario, 6.3 million.”
“Five million…. represents almost 35% of the adult population that needs to be vaccinated and it is time, I think, that it is important at the end of May to talk about the recovery of the economy,” the prime minister said.