School. Pupils and teachers will permanently wear a protective mask in school, the distance between pupils in the classroom will have to be no less than one meter, and the access of strangers is prohibited; these are some of the measures proposed by the Romanian Education Ministry to safely restart school on February 8. The document was discussed on Thursday with school inspectors in the country and is to be validated by the Ministry of Health. The two ministries will have another discussion to finalize the proposed changes to the draft joint order. Authorities have decided that as of Monday, more than 2.4 million pupils, out of nearly three million, will physically attend classes.
Covid-19. Romania reported 2,688 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, with total infections now nearing 740,000. The death toll is 18,675. More than 628,000 people have received the Covid vaccine in this country so far. The coordinator of the mass vaccination campaign Valeriu Gheorghiță has stated that Romania will probably use the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine only in people under 55, as in other European countries. An official decision in this respect will be taken this week after talks with experts, given that this month Romania is to receive a delivery of 800,000 doses of Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine. Gheorghiță also announced the opening of a further 180 vaccination centres as of February 15.
NATO. The US charge d'affaires in Bucharest, David Muniz, and the commander of the 31st Aviano Squadron, Brigadier General Jason E. Bailey, paid a visit to the Air Base in Campia Turzii (northwestern Romania) on Thursday. Issues of common interest regarding the contribution and role of the Romanian and American Air Forces to NATO measures to reinsure the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance, as well as bilateral cooperation within the Romania-United States Strategic Partnership were discussed. David Muniz declared, on this occasion, that since 2015, the USA has invested over 143 million dollars in the Câmpia Turzii base. In turn, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Major General Dr. Viorel Pană, underlined the importance of the Romanian-American cooperation in the field of security. A detachment consisting of MQ-9 Reaper aircraft and about 90 soldiers belonging to the US Air Force is deployed, for the next months, at the Base in Câmpia Turzii. The US military will carry out intelligence, surveillance and research missions in support of NATO operations, and the Romanian Air Force, through the Base, will provide the technical, operational and logistical support necessary to carry out missions throughout their deployment in Romania. The MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of performing remote or autonomous flight operations, mainly for the United States Air Force (USAF), the Romanian Ministry of Defense has informed.
Sentence. A former officer of the Romanian Intelligence Service was sentenced on Thursday, by a court in Bucharest, to one year and one month in prison with postponement of execution of the sentence for the crime of Holocaust denial. He got the sentence for publishing articles and a book between 2013-2017. The court also ruled the postponement of the enforcement of the prison sentence with a term of supervision of 2 years. The decision is not final and can be appealed. It is the first conviction of this kind in Romania. Holocaust denial is incriminated under an Emergency Ordinance of 2002, ratified by the Romanian Parliament by means of Law 217/2015.
Infringement. The European Commission on Thursday initiated infringement proceedings against 24 member states, including Romania, for failing to transpose new EU rules in the telecommunications sector, a statement from the EU executive said. The European Electronic Communications Code, which entered into force in December 2018, modernizes the European regulatory framework for electronic communications, in order to increase consumer choices and rights, by ensuring clearer contracts, quality services and competitive markets. The deadline for transposing the Code into national law was 21 December 2020. Member States have two months to respond.
Mexico. Following talks on Wednesday night between the Romanian and Mexican foreign ministers, the Mexican authorities have remedied the situation of the Romanian citizens blocked on Cancun airport. According to a statement from the Romanian foreign ministry, Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard Casaubó conveyed his counterpart Bogdan Aurescu his government's regrets for the negative impact caused by the actions of the Mexican authorities. All Romanian nationals have now been allowed access to Mexican territory with the exception of five persons who were bared from entering the country and will return to Romania. The Mexican authorities admitted that any possible security red flags that may affect the right of foreign citizens to enter Mexico must be based on individual, non-discriminatory assessments. 114 Romanian tourists were reportedly held by the Mexican authorities on Cancun airport, without any explanation. The Romanian foreign ministry has repeated its advise for Romanian citizens to show prudence when deciding to travel for tourist purposes, especially to destinations affected by the Covid pandemic.
Visit. The French President Emmanuel Macron expressed, on Thursday, his support for the new pro-European president of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu, elected in November, urgent her to implement brave reforms to strengthen the rule of law in the former Soviet republic, France Presse reports. He also offered his support for resolving the conflict in the separatist region of Transnistria. Maia Sandu also met with other officials from France, but also with representatives of the business environment. On Wednesday, the first day of the visit, she reiterated the constant interest of the Republic of Moldova in the expansion and diversification of bilateral relations and in boosting economic cooperation, Radio Chisinau reports. Maia Sandu had meetings with the President of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, and with the members of the France-Republic of Moldova Friendship Parliamentary Group. The trip to France aims to give a new impetus to the political, economic and cultural relations between the two states. It is Maya Sandu's third visit abroad, after Kiev and Brussels. (M. Ignatescu)