Hundreds of thousands of Romanians normally travel home from Italy for the Easter break, but they should think twice this year before making the trip, the acting health minister has said.
Victor Costache has advised Romanians that if they decide to travel to Romania next month, they face two weeks of quarantine due to the coronavirus outbreak there. There are an estimated one million Romanians living in Italy.
The number of coronavirus cases and deaths spiked again on Wednesday in Italy, Europe’s worst-hit country. Authorities reported 3,089 people infected and 107 deaths over all since the outbreak began.
The prospect of a hundreds of thousands of Romanians returning for the Easter holidays, is a cause for concern for authorities. Italy, a predominantly Catholic country celebrates Easter on April 11, while the Orthodox Easter is a week later.
Costache said anyone traveling to Romania from Italy would be quarantined. “I will tell you what I have told my brother, who is in Milan, that people will be placed in isolation for 15 days if they return to the country.”
“We recommend cutting travel…. of course, everyone is free to decide for themselves, but it is important that the public gets this information that we recommend restricting travel,” Costache told Stirileprotv.ro on Wednesday.
Costache said government officials were currently in talks with church officials on whether to ban large gatherings.
Millions of Romanians traditionally throng to churches for Easter services. Large crowds gather in churches around the country for the Easter Vigil which starts at midnight and lasts for several hours.
Six people have tested positive for coronavirus in Romania, four of which had traveled from Italy. The other two came into contact with people who had been in Italy.
The health ministry says 35 people are in institutionalized quarantine, while 10,771 people are in self-isolation at home.