Restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and betting shops will be allowed to reopen next week in Bucharest after the number of coronavirus cases dropped in the Romanian capital, authorities said.
The Bucharest Committee for Emergency Situations met Friday to decide whether to lift a lockdown on residents’ social life after cases dropped to about 2.52 per 1,000, taking the city out of the “red scenario” and placing it in the “yellow scenario.”
The decision came after the health ministry made a last-minute plea for restrictions to be maintained after two people were confirmed with UK strain of the virus in Bucharest. They hadn’t been abroad.
The closure of restaurants, bars and cinemas over the holiday season, as cases soared to often more than 1,000 per day, was one of the most unpopular measures during the pandemic and put a damper on Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Eve parties.
When the measures are lifted Monday, restaurants, cinemas and theaters can reopen, operating at 30% of capacity.
Gambling and betting shops can also reopen following the same rules.
The hospitality sector and culture have born the brunt of the effects of the pandemic. Even with a lifting of restrictions, it is unclear how quick recovery will be.
The decision was expected after Prime Minister Florin Citu spoke out in favor of lifting the restrictions which were introduced when cases soared.
“The relaxation will happen as long as we remain under 3,” Bucharest Mayor Nicusor Dan said. Bucharest reported 413 new Covid cases on Friday out of a nationwide total of 2,700.
“We are in the happy position of Bucharest having 2.5 cases (per 1,000)” the mayor said. “This is thanks to Bucharesters wearing masks and keeping a social distance.”
However, the head of the Emergency Services Department Raed Arafat said the decision was “reversible” if the infection rate again rose above three.
Restaurants and coffee shops with outdoor seating have been allowed to operate in recent weeks. That meant that they had to invest in outdoor heating systems even as the number of clients fell.