Romanian President Imposes New COVID Restrictions, Warns of ‘Catastrophe’

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday announced new restrictions that will come into force on Monday due to rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

According to the new measures, only fully vaccinated people can travel at night, possession of a "green" vaccination certificate will be mandatory for most activities, and protective masks will become mandatory everywhere, including on the street.

"I want to be very clear: if we wish to the pandemic to stop, the only, I repeat, the only solution is vaccination. Vaccination contains the pandemic. I know many try to tell you that this is not the case," Iohannis said.

He also announced that all students would go home for two weeks, also starting on Monday.

Authorities reported 17,158 new cases of COVID and 423 deaths on Wednesday alone.

For weeks, Romania has been the worst affected country in Europe by the new variant of the coronavirus, and last week it was in first place in the world in terms of the rate of COVID-related deaths, with 16.6 deaths per million citizens.

Iohannis said most restrictive measures had been lifted in Western Europe because these countries had vaccinated 70-80 per cent of the people. In Romania, the vaccination rate is only 29.43 per cent.

"In our part of Europe, where the people are reluctant to get vaccinations for various reasons, we are in full pandemic wave. In Romania, a real catastrophe has started, with hundreds and hundreds of deaths every day, with tens of thousands of people getting infected every day," he said.

Analysts blame the new wave of coronavirus on the failure of former PM Florin Citu's government to convince people to get vaccinated and on its inappropriate relaxation of restrictive measures.

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