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A roundup of the main stories in Romania this week.
The authorities are considering three options for the reopening of schools
Until Wednesday, school children in Romania, who have been at home since March, were still in the dark about how the new school year would start, and their parents and teachers worried. Asked repeatedly about how classes would be held for pre-university children, from nursery schools to high schools, the Liberal minority government had only implied that physical attendance would be combined with online teaching. The much-awaited clarifications eventually came on Wednesday, when president Klaus Iohannis said kindergartens and schools would reopen as scheduled on 14th September. He said classes would be held based on three scenarios - labelled green, yellow and red - that will differ regionally depending on the rate of infection in each area. More precisely, the local authorities are to decide if they reopen schools partly or fully or if they keep them closed. Most children are expected to attend school physically, but classes will be conducted online where necessary.
The Social Democratic Party in opposition has pointed out that children and teachers are yet to receive the tablets and computers promised by the government for remote teaching. The NGO Save the Children has called on the authorities to come up with guidelines to help schools take the best decisions for the start of the new school year depending on a number of factors, not only the coronavirus situation, but also the available space, the distance to school and means of transport to school for children and teachers and the hygienic conditions in schools. The NGO also pointed out that 47% of Romanian school children had limited access to education during lockdown, as they did not have access to tablets, computers or the internet. The education ministry now says that the government has allocated the funds needed to purchase 25,000 tablets and 74,000 laptops. During the state of emergency, that same ministry had called on the Orthodox Church to help children who don't own computers or whose parents can't afford to buy them one.
National Bank of Romania cuts monetary policy interest rate
The Managing Board of the National Bank of Romania decided to cut the monetary policy interest rate as of 6th August from 1.75% to 1.50% a year, as well as to cut interest rates on deposit and credit facilities that commercial banks can benefit from in relation to the National Bank. Also, the central bank decided to maintain at the current level the sums that banking institutions are obliged to keep in its accounts.
Romanian bankers are saying that the global and European economies began to recover in May amid the gradual relaxation of movement restrictions, but that there's still a long way to go until they return to the situation before the health crisis. Economic recovery remains uncertain in the short run, being dependent on the evolution of the pandemic and the associated measures, the authorities' fiscal measures and the monetary policies of the central banks in the advanced and emerging economies.
As far as the Romanian economy is concerned, the National Bank of Romania says it shrank in the first quarter of the year from 4.3 to 2.4%, while the trade deficit level grew considerably amid a sharp drop in the export of goods and services. The contraction became severe in the second quarter, with a strong decline in April, when a full lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of the pandemic. Some recovery was seen in May, following the replacement of the state of emergency with the state of alert. The leu-euro exchange rate became quasi-stable. Gold became, however, more expensive, reaching record high levels, a sign for some analysts that the economy is in great difficulty.
Prince Charles urges Romanians to discover their country
Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, urges Romanians to spend their holiday in their own country and discover its incredible beauties in a video made recently and presented on Tuesday at his residence in Valea Zălanului, in central Romania. The five-minute video was made by the British journalist Charlie Ottley, the producer of a series of documentary films called Wild Carpathia aimed at supporting the Romanian tourist industry. Prince Charles, who narrates the video, says he first came to Romania twenty years ago and that he discovered an amazing country which has a special place in his heart. He says he regrets not being able to travel to Romania this year because of the pandemic but that he would continue to campaign for the protection of its unique treasures. He mentions the Danube Delta, Europe's biggest and wildest wet area, the collections in Bucharest's museums, the wild beauty of the Iron Gates gorges, the castles, the mountains and the Saxon villages of Transylvania.
CFR Cluj win football championship title
CFR Cluj won their third consecutive football championship title as they defeated Universitatea Craiova 3-1 in an away match held on Monday night. This is CFR's sixth championship title in the Romanian First League. Universitatea missed the chance to win their first title in 29 years, but this is their best ranking since returning to first tier football, not to mention their good play in the decisive championship match.
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