June 9, 2020 / 1:24 PM / a month ago

Romania's president aims to extend state of alert to fight coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis arrives for a European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium, February 21, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania’s state of alert in place since May 15 to fight the new coronavirus must be extended by another 30 days until the middle of July, President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday.

Iohannis ordered a strict lockdown in early March to rein in the outbreak and replaced the state of emergency with a softer state of alert mode last month. “We see the number of new infections have not dropped significantly, so we need this mode extended to fight the virus (further),” he said.

The extension must be approved by parliament, where the centrist government lacks a majority. The leftist Social Democrats that lead the opposition have threatened to block the extension, accusing the cabinet of trying to remake daily life through “fines and restrictions.”

Romania has so far recorded 20,749 cases of COVID-19 infections, of whom 14,910 have recovered and 1,345 died. Over the past 24 hours it recorded 145 new cases.

Under the state of alert, a ban on travel without official permission was lifted, church services were allowed to resume outdoors and restaurants with outdoor seating reopened.

Iohannis said further restrictions would be lifted on June 15 with shopping malls, kindergartens, after-school facilities and swimming pools reopening after three months of closure. But restaurants with indoor seating would remain closed.

Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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