Romania’s National Council for Emergency Situations (CNSU) announced new set of stricter pandemic rules, that includes complete ban on the textile face masks in the Eastern European nation.
Wearing surgical or FFP2 masks is now mandatory for all Romanian residents older than five.
Substantial fines of up to €500 ($567) have been introduced for those caught wearing the banned cloth face coverings.
The CNSU also said that bars and restaurants could operate at 50% or 30% capacity depending on the infection rate in their area but may only admit guests with COVID-19 passes. The same rules apply to sporting venues, gyms and cinemas across Romania.
Romania had been registering less than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in mid-December, but over the past week infections jumped to around 6,000 per day. The spike was partly blamed on the holiday season, which saw many Romanians, who work in the West, returning home.
According to Romania’s Health Minister Alexandru Rafila, the country is “already in the fifth wave of the pandemic.”
Romania has already seen 300 cases of the super-mutant Omicron variant, with Rafila saying that “for the time being, there is a sporadic transmission.” However, according to the minister, it is “very possible that in the coming days, the coming weeks, we will witness a community transmission supported by this new strain.
Romania is currently the EU’s second lowest-vaccinated member state, with just 40% of its population of 19.5 million having received both shots of the jab.
Since the start of the pandemic, Romania has recorded more than 1.8 million COVID-19 infections with some 60,000 fatalities.