Romanian PM plans to relax Covid-19 restrictions for Orthodox Easter

Romanian Prime Minister Florin Citu says he plans to relax some of the pandemic restrictions for Orthodox Easter next month.

Worshipers will be allowed to attend all-night Easter services which end at 5 a.m. and shops will stay open until 8 p.m. on Good Friday under the plan.

Currently, there is an 8 p.m. curfew in places which have high numbers of Covid-19 infections. Shops close at 6 p.m. in the worst affected areas.

The new restrictions were introduced after a spike in cases in late March. The development led to a spate of protests against the measures.

But the center-right government is keen to win support from the influential Romanian Orthodox Church to push its vaccine rollout. It hopes that cases will fall if sufficient numbers of people are inoculated.

It believes that the church has sufficient influence, particularly in rural areas to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

Last Easter, when Romania was under a state of emergency at the start of the pandemic, Easter services were canceled, a move that was unpopular with some priests and worshipers.

This year, the  government already relaxed pandemic rules for the April 4 Easter, which was celebrated by Catholic and Protestant churches.

However, Romanians are overwhelmingly Orthodox and their Easter falls on May 2 this year, a day after May 1 holiday when many head to the Black Sea coast.

In a nod to the holiday, the prime minister also said he’d allow seaside resorts to function at 70% of their capacity, as long as they complied with other pandemic rules. Those include face masks in all public places and social distancing.

The prime minister said he would send his set of proposals to the National Committee for Emergency Situations later Thursday.



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