Government – The Romanian government is meeting today to pass an emergency decree on measures related to the state budget for 2021. The government intends to maintain state aid for the hospitality industry and that intermediated by the IMM INVEST Program until June 30. PM Florin Citu announced that, in case he gets all the necessary approvals, the government agenda will also include a law that will introduce the AGRO IMM INVEST Program for agricultural producers, similar to the existing one for the other small and medium-sized enterprises. Also today, the government intends to increase the minimum gross salary to 2,300 lei (about 470 euros), a regulation that will come into force on January 1, 2021. Holiday vouchers will continue to be granted in 2021 as well, vouchers amounting to 1,450 lei (that is about 300 Euros), to stimulate Romanian tourism. The PM added that the government wants to extend such active measures as the indemnity granted to employees for the period of individual labor contracts suspension and the support of employers by paying part of the gross salary granted to the employees that are still working.
Vaccination - The anti-COVID-19 vaccination campaign starts today at the 'Marius Nasta' Pulmonology Institute and the University Hospital in Bucharest. About 3,000 medical staff from the front-line hospitals fighting the COVID-19 pandemic were vaccinated in the first three days of the national vaccination campaign. The authorities announced that, in the three days since the start of the campaign, the vaccinated persons reported common and minor side effects, such as pain at the injection area and several general reactions. On Tuesday, the second tranche of more than 140 thousand doses of Covid-19 vaccines reached Romania. The vaccination campaign started in Romania on Sunday, as in most EU countries.
COVID-19 Romania – Over 4,600 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Romania on Tuesday, out of approximately 24,000 tests made in 24 hours. Most of the new cases, over 1,300, were registered in Bucharest which is followed by Timiş County (west). As regards the contamination rate for a period of 14 days, the worst situation is reported in Ilfov County, near Bucharest, with almost five cases per thousand inhabitants. The authorities have also announced 135 COVID-19 related deaths, with 1,162 patients being in ICUs. Almost 88% of the people contaminated with the new coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic have recovered.
Earthquake – Rescue teams are still searching for survivors among the debris resulted following Tuesday's 6.4 magnitude earthquake from Croatia, which occurred in the area of the historic town of Petrinja (center). According to first estimates, at least 7 people have died and several scores have been wounded. According to France Presse, more than 20,000 people have spent their night outdoors, for fear of possible aftershocks. In Bucharest, President Klaus Iohannis said that Romania is by Croatia and its citizens’ side and it is ready to provide help. Other countries in the region and the European Commission have offered their support.
Post-Brexit agreement – The long-awaited post-Brexit agreement was signed on Wednesday by the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the European Council President Charles Michel. The agreement regulates the relations between the EU and the UK starting on Friday, January 1, 2021. The European leaders considered the moment "of historic importance" and "a major step forward", an extremely important turning point. The documents will go to London to also be signed by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Brussels and the UK have managed to reach an agreement on post-Brexit relations on the last minute, on the Christmas Eve, after many months of difficult negotiations. The new regulations will take effect on 1 January, and the document is to be ratified by the European Parliament and the parliaments of the 27 member states. At the same time, the British Parliament will meet, also today, in a videoconference, to debate this ‘historic’ trade agreement, and to put it to the vote. The UK, which officially left the EU on 31 January 2020, will definitively leave the EU single market and the customs union on 31 December, but following this agreement, no tariffs will be imposed on the merchandise originating in the EU or the UK. (tr. L. Simion)