Romanian PM highlights benefits of vaccination as demand fades

Romanian Prime Minister Florin Citu in Bucharest, Romania, 23 December 2020. [EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT]

Faced with the prospect of a slowing vaccination campaign, Romanian Prime Minister Florin Citu has raised the prospect of a potential easing of restrictions for people that have received their COVID-19 vaccinations.

So far, Citu has been wary of proposing “rewards” in exchange for vaccination, citing discrimination issues. Romania was one of the countries that opposed at first the idea of a so-called “vaccination passport”.

But with vaccines widely available throughout Romania, new points of vaccination opened, the involvement of family doctors in the campaign, and with vaccination “marathons” held in more and more cities, the government plans to step up the vaccination rate, while demand seems to fade.

“It is clear that we can talk about staying without a mask on the beach, or if one goes hiking, but we can also talk about facilities for vaccinated people: restaurants or seaside hotels that can reach 100% capacity indoors for vaccinated people. There may be private events open only to vaccinated people,” said Citu.

But the prime minister added that no decision had yet been taken, noting that proposals will come for a special committee to be formed with the view of easing the restrictions.

Currently, in most of Romania, restaurants can only function at 30% capacity indoors, and the same applies to theatres and other cultural events. While dining outdoors is permitted, some cities still ban outdoor concerts. Romania managed to avoid a hard lockdown this spring, and it has more than 2 million people vaccinated with both doses.

However, plans for the immunisation of 10 million people or about 70% of the adult population by August now seems far-fetched, as interest seems to be decreasing.

Romania is one of the countries where everyone above the age of 16 is eligible for a vaccine and can even do it without prior appointment at some locations. 

(Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)

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