State of emergency to fight the coronavirus in Romania

In a strongly economic context unbalanced by the COVID-19 pandemic, Romania aligns itself with the measures taken by other EU member states and declares a state of emergency to allow the authorities to implement the most appropriate strategies for managing and preventing the spread of coronavirus.

In short, the state of emergency represents the set of exceptional measures of political, economic and public order applicable throughout the country or in some administrative-territorial units established by the President of Romania by decree, countersigned by the prime minister and published immediately in the Official Journal of Romania.

Thus, during the day of March 16, 2020, following the signing by the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis and the publication in the Official Gazette of Romania, the decree establishing the state of emergency throughout the territory of Romania entered into force for a period of 30 days. Depending on the evolution of the situations of danger, the President of Romania, with the consent of the Parliament, can extend the duration of the state of emergency and can extend or restrict its scope for successive periods of 30 days.

According to the decree, the establishment of the state of emergency on the territory of Romania envisages concrete actions in different fields, in force throughout the entire period of the state of emergency, presented generically as follows:

Labor and social protection field: Employers and employees affected by the effects of the COVID-19 crisis will be supported by establishing derogations from the legal provisions in force. Employees and their families from sectors whose activity is affected or even totally or partially stopped during the period of emergency, by decisions of the public authority, will benefit from social protection.

Private capital companies, central and local public institutions and authorities, autonomous administrative authorities, autonomous authorities, national companies and companies and companies in which the state or a territorial-administrative unit is a single or majority shareholder, introduces, where possible, during the period state of emergency, work at home,  by unilateral act of the employer.

During the state of emergency, with certain express exceptions, the Territorial Labor Inspectorates are suspended from carrying out checks on employers.

Health field: The provision of the necessary amounts in the budget of the Ministry of Health for the purchase by the health units of materials and medicines needed during the pandemic is carried out by transfers from the Ministry of Health, and the purchase will be made by the health units through a direct procurement procedure.

At the same time, the medical services for the treatment of COVID-19 cases and their complications are provided to all persons on the territory of Romania and are supported by the budget of the National National Health Insurance Fund.

Education area: Schools will be closed, while activity in university and pre-university education is suspended. Thus, emphasis will be placed on the technological means by which a home schooling type of schooling can be ensured. 

Economic area: The Government can adopt measures to support the economic operators in the areas affected by COVID-19 and will announce soon the package of solutions prepared.

Also, if needed, prices on medicines and medical equipment may be capped, on strictly necessary foods and on public utility services such as electricity and heat, gas, water supply, sanitation, fuels, within the limit of the average price of the last 3 months prior to declaring the state of emergency.

Justice area: The trial activity will continue only in cases of special urgency. The list of these cases is established by the management of the High Court of Cassation and Justice and by the governing bodies of the Courts of Appeal respectively. The Superior Council of Magistracy will give the necessary guidance to ensure unitary practices. For trial of processes, courts can give short term from day to day or in the same day and will have the necessary measures to conduct hearings by videoconference.

Equally, the decree also establishes a series of first-aid measures with gradual or immediate applicability, such as the closing of state border crossing points, the temporary closure of restaurants, hotels, cafes, clubs and other public places. Also, road, rail, maritime, river or air traffic on different routes may be gradually banned. At the same time, the first emergency measure with gradual applicability is also the identification and requisitioning of stocks, production and distribution capacities, protective equipment, disinfectants, drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19. All these are extreme measures, however, which will only apply if the situation requires it at a certain time.

At the same time, the measures dictated by the state of emergency and adopted by the decree of the President of Romania, are intended to supplement and not to cancel those measures already established at national level for the same purpose of preventing and controlling the epidemiological situation.

From a legislative point of view, the state of emergency is regulated by the Romanian Constitution as well as by OUG no. 1/1999 regarding the state of siege regime and the state of emergency regime.

As part of the legal procedure, within a maximum of 5 days from the establishment of the state of emergency, the President of Romania requests the Parliament to approve the adopted measure. In the event that the Parliament does not approve the established state, the President of Romania immediately revokes the decree, the measures ordered ceasing its applicability.

The decree establishing the state of emergency shall be brought to the public's notice without delay by means of mass communication, together with the urgent implementing measures, which shall enter into force immediately.

In essence, it is to be emphasized that the declaration of the state of emergency allows the state institutions to adopt a more rigorous and more applied organization to the situation that occurred, to allocate important resources for crisis management and to protect and create an action framework adapted to the current context by implementing the measures adopted on the basis of the decree for the benefit of the citizens.