Shopping malls will not be the first to open after the 15th of May

To avoid unnecessary overcrowding, shopping malls will probably not be the first to open after May 15, said Raed Arafat, head of the Department of Emergency Situations in Romania.

The Strategic Communication Group reported that another 11 Romanians have died of COVID-19, with the total number of deaths now exceeding 800. All of those who have passed away have also had several other serious illnesses.

Arafat specified that restrictions will not be relaxed in some regions, such as in epidemic centers like Suceava, the first city where a quarantine was established. These areas will still have to endure the measures until the rate of infection improves.

“I do not think that malls will be the first to open, although I do not know yet. After the 15th of May, we will have to wait and see what happens for another 15 days, after which [we will wait] another 14 days, and after that we will be able to take action.”

“We will wait to open places that attract unnecessary crowds. We do not know yet if after the first measures are relaxed, we will see the numbers grow or decrease or if we will continue with this zig-zag stability. We are not yet on a decreasing trend, that is for sure. We cannot foresee what effect the relaxation of the measures will be,” Arafat noted.

Public transportation

“In order to avoid overcrowding on metros or on other means of public transportation, these will have to be supplemented. Also, another measure for avoiding crowds is to have employees come to work at different hours and leave at different hours,” he said.

“We will also have to keep measures for self-isolation at home and quarantine. I see no way to terminate these while there are regions in Europe where the situation is still very serious. The decision related to air transportation is not made by us; it is a decision be made on a European level,” he continued.

“What can we do? Scan people before they fly and not let sick people fly? This would be the perfect solution to protect those on the plane. We can also put additional seats between people so that they are not close to each other and thus avoid infection. These measures will have to be thought through because flying is costly, and if you reduce available seats by 40 percent to maintain social distancing, this may result in plane tickets becoming more expensive,” Arafat explained.

Different easing measures in hot zone regions

He also added that “in the hot zone regions, the measures will not relax at the same time as in the rest of the regions. These areas will be handled differently based on epidemiological analysis. If the cases in, for example, Suceava do not decrease, you cannot relax measures there. They will have to wait. Otherwise, that hot zone can become dangerous, and we will expand it instead of control it, the head of the Department of Emergency Situations explained.


Featured photo: AllianceBernstein


Author: Blanka Székely