Coronavirus. Coronavirus infections hit 56,550 in Romania, with more than 1,300 daily cases reported on Wednesday. Over 28,500 people have recovered and 2,521 have died. 464 people are in intensive care. The authorities have again called on the population to observe the prevention measures in place. The health minister Nelu Tataru says the number of cases may drop in the coming period if basic rules are respected, such as wearing a face mask. In the meantime, countries like Cyprus, Finland and Lithuania have imposed new restrictions on arrivals from Romania over the surge in the number of cases in this country. Italy, the UK, Ireland, Norway, Estonia and Latvia have ordered travelers from Romania to self-isolate for 14 days. Switzerland too has announced new conditions for Romanians, as of August 8th.
Schools. On Wednesday, President Klaus Iohannis had a meeting on education with the Liberal Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and several government ministers. The head of state announced that in Romania the new pre-university school year will start on September 14, and most pupils will physically go to school. Klaus Iohannis explained that there will be three scenarios regarding the development of the courses according to the number of COVID-19 patients in each locality, and the decision will be taken by the local authorities. In the green scenario - all students go to school, in the yellow scenario, some activities are held in school, some online, and in the red scenario - no one goes to school, students learn online. The president specified that the role of the online school is to ensure the education process where it is impossible to physically attend classes. The head of state said that the Government will elaborate a legislative solution regarding the parents who will have to stay at home with their children in case classes will be held online. Klaus Iohannis also said that the Executive and the Minister of Education were working at full speed to solve the problem of internet access, providing tablets and mobile phones to disadvantaged children. Recently, the non-governmental organization 'Save the Children' has warned that during the months of isolation, almost half of the Romanian pupils (47%) had limited access to online education, as they had no access to the internet, a tablet or any type of computer connection. By launching a "I want to go to school" campaign, the NGO calls on central and local authorities to take concrete steps to correct and prevent similar situations in the context of the start of the new school year.
Explosion. The Lebanese Government has declared a state of emergency for two weeks in capital Beirut and decided to place under house arrest all those responsible for the explosion that killed more than 100 people, injured thousands and caused immense material damage. The EU, Russia, Turkey and the countries in the Persian Gulf have sent humanitarian aid and specialized search and rescue teams. High-ranking officials from the Security Service in Lebanon said the blast was caused by the detonation of some 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored for six years at a port warehouse in unsafe conditions. The blast has destroyed the port area almost completely, and the entire city is in chaos. Prime minister Hassan Diab has promised that those responsible for the tragedy will be held accountable. The Romanian embassy in Beirut has not received any information to date about there being any Romanian citizens among the victims of the two big explosions. The foreign ministry in Bucharest says the building housing the Romanian embassy suffered minor damages and that the staff is safe. President Klaus Iohannis posted a Twitter message expressing solidarity with the Lebanese people.
Central Bank. The National Bank of Romania decided, on Wednesday, to reduce the key interest rate to 1.50%, from 1.75 percent per year, starting August 6th. The NBR also decided to reduce the interest rate for the deposit facility to 1.00% per year, from 1.25%, and the interest rate for the credit facility (Lombard) to 2.00% per year from 2.25%. The Central Bank has decided to maintain the current levels of minimum required reserve ratios for liabilities in lei and foreign currency of credit institutions.
Competition. Bucharest - Cluj-Napoca (northwestern Romania), along with Milan, Valencia, Vienna and 8 other European cities have qualified for the final of the competition for the title of "European Capital of Innovation 2020". The winning city will receive 1 million euros to support its innovation activities and strengthen its capacity to establish connections between citizens, the public sector, academia and business, in order to bring societal benefits to its communities. Each of the five cities that will be ranked next will receive 100,000 euros. The European Capital of Innovation competition is organized and funded under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation program. The award recognizes the merits of European cities that develop dynamic innovation ecosystems designed to address the challenges of public life and improve people's lives. The EC will announce the winner and occupants of the other winning places in the competition during the European Research and Innovation Days which will take place between 22-24 September 2020
Charles. Prince Charles of Wales, heir to the British crown, urges Romanians to spend their holidays in their own country and discover its 'unbelievable riches' in a film recently made and presented at his residence in Valea Zălanului, central Romania. The five-minute film was made by British journalist Charlie Ottley, producer of the Wild Carpathia documentary series, aimed to support the Romanian tourism industry. Prince Charles, who narrates this film, says that he first came to Romania 20 years ago and that he discovered an amazing country, which holds a special place in his heart.