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A review of the headline-grabbing events of the week
COVID-19 in Romania six months from the first case
Romania had its first documented case of COVID-19 six months ago, and so far 83,000 people have been infected, and 3,500 people have died. Health Minister Nelu Tataru said that new restrictions were not needed, since weekly reports show a downward trend in the number of cases. The National Committee for Emergency Situations proposed the re-opening of indoor cafes and restaurants, with certain restrictions, as well as cinemas, museums, libraries, and other show venues. In mid-March, restaurants, cafes, hotel restaurants and other public venues were shut down becaues of the pandemic, with activities limited to home deliveries when possible. The decision included a provision to limit the activity of outdoor cafes and restaurants to between 6 AM and midnight, and increasing the number of people who could gather for private events to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors.
The local election campaign kicks off in Romania
On Friday, the local election campaign started, scheduled for September 27. The initial ballot date was for June, but was postponed by the pandemic. For the fist time, certain health related rules will be imposed. The campaign teams and the candidates will wear face masks at rallies, both indoors and outdoors. Indoor events are limited to an attendance of a maximum of 50, with a limit of 100 outdoors. Also, door to door campaigning will be limited to teams of two. The election campaign ends on September 26. Voters may register up until September 4, when mayor's offices have to update voter lists. Sections open on September 27 at 7 AM and will close at 9 PM, with vote counting ending by September 28. This is a race for 41 positions of county council chairperson, over 1,300 county council members, 40,000 local advisers, and around 3,200 mayor's offices. The most important race is that for mayor of the capital, Bucharest, with no less than 18 candidates, four of them independents. The favorites are considered to be Social Democratic incumbent Gabriela Firea, and Nicusor Dan, the independent supported by the governing Liberals. President Klaus Iohannis called on the candidates and the voters to comply with health regulations so that voting can go on in safety. Before the election campaign, the head of state insisted that was essential that everything be done to protect democracy during this period. He added that this is possible as long as everyone complies with a set of rules meant to provide an optimal environment for running election activities under these special conditions.
Censure motion against the government set to be debated and voted on August 31
The Parliament in Bucharest will debate and on vote on a censure motion against the government on August 31, a motion introduced by the Social Democrat opposition against the ruling Liberal executive. The opposition accuses the government led by Ludovic Orban of mishandling the pandemic. In turn, the executive filed a motion in the Constitutional Court to block a censure motion during the Parliament's summer break. Social Democratic leader Marcel Ciolacu believes that the present government has to go, and that his party has to votes to oust them. PM Orban claims that the opposition is acting irresponsibly, and that it forces the country to manage the pandemic in the absence of a government.
Romania and the situation in Belarus
Romania announced it would allocate 100,000 Euro as aid for civil society and independent journalists in Belarus, according to Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, addressing an informal meeting of EU diplomats in Berlin. Before the meeting, Aurescu said that Romania would call for punishing the parties guilty of abuses during the Belarus elections. He added that the contentious actions of the rulers in Minsk cannot be left without an answer from the European Union.
Romanian football teams in the European Cups
Three Romanian teams have been playing in the Europa League, resulting in two qualifications and one elimination in games played on Thursday in the preliminaries. FC Botosani won 2-1 away from home against FC Ordabasy of Kazakhstan, while Bucharest team FCSB won at home 3-0 against the Armenian team FC Shirak. Romanian vice-champions CS Universitatea Craiova was eliminated by Georgian team FC Locomotive Tbilisi, losing 1-2. On Wednesday night, playing at home, CFR Cluj was eliminated by Croatian team Dinamo Zagreb in the second preliminary round of the Champions League. The next rounds will be decided next week in a drawing of lots.
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