Romania’s Orban breaches own coronavirus rules, pays fine

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban (C), followed by the Interior Minster Marcel Vela (R), arrives for a National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) session on COVID-19 issues, at the Interior Ministry headquarters, in Bucharest, Romania, 14 May 2020. [Robert Ghement/EPA/EFE]

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban paid a 3,000 lei fine (€617) on Saturday (30 May) for breaking his own coronavirus restrictions by not wearing a face mask and smoking indoors, state news agency Agerpres said.

A picture which went viral on social media shows Orban in his office, sitting around a table with several other cabinet members, smoking a cigarette while none of them wore masks. Their masks were thrown on the table.

In a statement, Orban acknowledged breaching the rules, saying some cabinet members gathered at his office after a long working day on 25 May, his 57th birthday.

“The prime minister knows rules must be obeyed by all citizens, regardless of their position. If the law is broken then sanctions must be enforced,” the agency quoted the statement as saying.

After 60 days of strict lockdown during a state of emergency which expired on May 15, Orban’s government ordered a 30-day state of alert, when wearing masks became mandatory in public transport and in closed public spaces. Smoking indoors has been banned in Romania since 2016.

Restaurants with outdoor seating are due to reopen under strict restrictions on Monday.

Romania reported 19,133 cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, 151 cases more on the day, and 1,253 deaths.

COVID-19 lockdown: The EU leaders who didn’t lead by example

In the UK and in many countries in Central and Eastern Europe leaders have shown lack of respect for the lockdown measures – the EURACTIV network looked into how some prime ministers and presidents have conducted themselves through the pandemic so far.

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