Coronavirus in Romania: PM announces harsher penalties for those who help spread Covid-19
Romania’s Government adopted on Wednesday evening, March 18, an emergency ordinance that increases the penalties for people who give false statements to the authorities or hide important information during epidemiological investigations, thus making it more difficult to contain the spreading of the Covid-19 virus.
“We have decided to increase the penalties for false statements regarding the coronavirus epidemic. There are situations when a citizen returns from a high-risk country and must either be quarantined or isolated. Citizens must fill-in statements. Those who commit forgery and do not say which country they come from, so that the authorities can make the right decision in their case, will suffer the consequences of the law. They commit a crime punishable with prison,” prime minister Ludovic Orban said in a press briefing on Thursday morning.
“A new crime has been introduced: failure to provide data. If, in an epidemiological investigation, someone doesn’t provide complete information about the persons with whom he came in contact, this is considered to be an omission and a criminal case can be opened,” the prime minister said.
In his opinion, most of the Romanians who go through this difficult period respect the law and the decisions of the authorities. “For this reason, we have decided to tighten the penalties for those who do not respect them. The primary duty of the Government is to defend the health of the citizens. We will take measures as harsh as necessary for those who do not comply with the measures,” he said. “We cannot accept that irresponsible citizens who are in a situation of being isolated or quarantined may walk freely in society and risk infecting other citizens,” the PM added.
However, he didn’t go into specifics about the penalties for those who break the rules and the emergency ordinance hasn’t been made public yet (as of Thursday noon).
Higher jail sentences for those who thwart disease control
For the same purpose, a group of Liberal MPs initiated on Wednesday a draft bill for increasing penalties for those who spread disease.
Thus, persons who disregard the measures imposed by the authorities and spread contagious diseases face sentences of up to 5 years of jail time, and up to 10 years of jail time if they infect two or more people. Moreover, if anyone dies as a result of the infection, the penalty could go up to as much as 15 years, according to the draft bill. The Government’s emergency ordinance also includes these provisions, according to PNL senator Iuliana Scantei, one of the bill's initiators.
“It is necessary that all people in Romania, both Romanian and foreign citizen, comply with the measures and restrictions adopted by the authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 disease to a large number of citizens. Together with my colleagues, Liberal senators Alina Gorghiu and Daniel Fenechiu, I drafted and transmitted to the Parliament a draft law amending the Penal Code (art. 352) which increases the penalties for all those who thwart the authorities’ efforts to contain the spread of diseases like the new coronavirus,” PNL senator Iuliana Scantei wrote on Facebook.
The initiative comes after some persons completely disregarded the measures imposed by the authorities to limit the spreading of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
Dozens infected with the new Covid-19 virus by people who ignored the safety measures
The most notorious case is that of a retired police officer who went to a hospital in Bucharest and didn’t inform the doctors that he had returned from Israel recently and was treated at that hospital for several days before being diagnosed with Covid-19. He ended up infecting dozens of other people, including 22 doctors from the hospital where he had been treated, according to the local media.
Another highly mediatized case is that of a Romanian who was diagnosed with Covid-19 in Spain and took a flight from Madrid to Bucharest, with 60 other people on board.
In Bucharest, a person suspected of Covid-19 infection left the hospital.
By Wednesday, March 18, the authorities had opened 51 criminal cases for thwarting disease control. Moreover, 120 people have been fined with a total sum of RON 1.84 mln (EUR 382,000) for breaking the self-isolation measure imposed on all those who have returned from high-risk countries in the last two weeks.
Romania has recorded 260 Covid-19 cases so far, according to the latest data released by the authorities on Wednesday evening, March 18. Most of the infection cases have been traced to people who had returned from countries with Covid-19 outbreaks.
(Photo source: Gov.ro)