Political battle puts smooth relaxation of lockdown at risk in Romania

Political battle puts smooth relaxation of lockdown at risk in Romania
A Bucharest resident hangs a tricolor in their window during the strict lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest May 13, 2020

Romania is likely to lack containment or social distancing regulations for a couple of days, as the Social Democrat opposition that holds a controlling majority in parliament says that the law drafted by the government cannot be enforced immediately after the state of emergency ends on May 15.

The Social Democrats also amended significantly the government’s draft law that, among others, gives the executive less power in setting the regulations during the state of alert that is going to be enforced after the state of emergency ends.  

Romania's government failed to endorse in time the law draft needed to regulate the state of alert after the state of emergency ends on May 15, opposition leader Marcel Ciolacu claimed.

The law that sets the framework for the state of alert can't come into force before May 18, Ciolacu stressed.

The government endorsed the draft law that includes the measures to be enforced during the state of alert on May 11. Still, the document needs the endorsement of the parliament. It can come into force only three days after it is published in the Official Journal.

With 111 votes in favour, eight against and 15 abstentions, the draft law on the state of alert was adopted by the Senate with substantial amendments. On May 13, the legislative initiative enters the debate of the Chamber of Deputies, which is also the decision-making forum in this case.

The parliament's legal committee has changed some of the provisions included in the government's draft. One amendment provides that the parliament will have to approve the state of alert within three days after the government declares it.

Currently, the law stipulates that the state of alert is decided by the National Committee for Emergency Situations and stipulated by emergency ordinance.

In a public statement on May 12,President Klaus Iohannis made no comment on the complications related to the endorsement of the new law but mentioned the mandatory use of face masks during the state of alert.

Those leaving their cities will have to carry written statements about the legitimate purpose of their travel. On the other hand, the government's draft law is flexible enough to allow almost anybody to travel freely.