Romania prepares to open hotels but not restaurants on May 15
Hotels will reopen in Romania on May 15, when the state of emergency due to COVID-19 ends in the country. However, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars will remain closed even after this date, prime minister Ludovic Orban said in a long press conference on Monday evening, May 4.
He argued that restaurants, especially those who operate mainly indoors, have high epidemiological risk.
"After May 15, based on the evaluations we have at the moment, restaurants, cafes, and bars will not open, neither in closed spaces nor in open spaces. Depending on the evolution of the epidemic, depending on the evolution of the meteorological conditions, we do not exclude the possibility that those in open spaces will open on June 1 or June 15, under certain conditions," PM Orban explained, adding that the holiday season in Romania starts after June 15.
Shopping malls will also remain closed as well after May 15, the PM said.
When asked about the economic impact of keeping restaurants closed, Orban said that health is his Government's main concern, pointing out to the sector's small contribution to the GDP. "We are also paying attention to the economy, but health is our main focus. Let's admit it: HoReCa's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is limited. We can make it for another month and a half or two," said Ludovic Orban.
His statements angered the investors in the hospitality sector, who have been among the hardest-hit by the restrictions imposed by the authorities to limit the spreading of COVID-19.
The HoReCa sector provides jobs to 400,000 Romanians. It generates 1.7% of the GDP, according to the Hospitality Culture Institute, which reunites leaders from the local hospitality industry.
"HoReCa is an industry that can restart the economy and make money flow more easily. We are not an entertainment industry. HoReCa businesses are not businesses that can be stopped abruptly and long-term and then reopened just as easily. In the service area, a total closure period of 4 months is like disappearing. Reopening translates into starting the business from scratch," said the representatives of the Hospitality Culture Institute in a press release.
Shopping malls, hotels, and restaurants in Romania were closed after president Klaus Iohannis decreed the state of emergency in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 16.
In March, the number of tourists who checked in local hotels dropped by 70% compared to the same month of 2020, according to data from the National Statistics Institute (INS). In April, the drop was likely close to 100%.
(Photo source: Gov.ro)