Romanian president: lockdown will end in mid-May, but masks will become compulsory in public


President Klaus Iohannis has announced an end to a strict lockdown in mid-May, but says masks will become compulsory in public and some restrictions on public gatherings will still apply.

Iohannis said Wednesday that restrictions on people’s movements would end when the current state of emergency expires on May 15.

A monthlong state of emergency was imposed on March 16 to contain the spread of the virus, and then extended for another month.

Currently, people have to fill out an official form before they leave home explaining why they have gone out, similar to rules in Italy and France.

The form has to be presented along with an ID card if they are stopped by the police or military.

Anyone caught violating the rules faces a fine of between 2,000 and 20,000 lei. The average monthly salary is about 3,000 lei.

Appearing in front of the camera with a surgical mask, Iohannis said that masks would be compulsory in enclosed public places and on public transport for the foreseeable future.

„After May 15…. we will give up restriction of people’s movement,” he said. „We will be able to go out in public without stating beforehand where we are going and why we are going.”

Restrictions on some mass gatherings will remain, he said. Sporting events and concerts were suspended when Romania imposed  the state of emergency.

Malls, restaurants, bars were closed, and flights and church services were suspended.  Schools and universities were closed and Romanians were advised to work from home where possible.

Iohannis said: „This is what we will look like after May 15 while in enclosed public spaces and on public transport,” the president said. „This measure is not limited in time. We will be able to give up wearing masks maybe next year when this pandemic will be under control and there will be no risk of infection.”

Authorities are working on a phased relaxation plan to be implemented after May 15. This will include reopening schools and resuming economic activities, especially in the worst-hit sectors such as retail and the service industry.

Some restrictions will be lifted, but others will remain, Iohannis said. „Step by step, depending on how cases develop, we will try to enter a new normality. Doctors tell us that the virus will not go away, so we will have to find a way to live with this virus.”


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