Romanian capital to ease COVID-19 restrictions

BUCHAREST, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Indoor restaurants, bars and cafes in the Romanian capital Bucharest will be allowed to partially operate from Monday, local authorities said Friday.

Bucharest Prefect Traian Berbeceanu announced the decision to ease some of the restrictions imposed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants, bars and cafes will be allowed to operate between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. at a maximum capacity of 30 percent.

"Bucharest's (COVID-19) infection rate was 2.52 per thousand population today. This is the third consecutive day with an incidence rate below 3 per thousand," the prefect said in a statement.

According to the regulations of the central government, public catering units such as restaurants, bars and cafes might operate at 50 percent capacity at an incidence ranging between 0 and 1.5 per 1,000 people, at 30 percent capacity between 1.5 and 3 per thousand, and would have to be closed if the epidemic continues to worsen.

Observers here noticed that the central government has concerns about the relaxation of restrictions on the catering industry in the capital after the new variant of coronavirus first discovered in the UK were found in the country.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Health recommended the Bucharest Emergency Management Committee to postpone the decision as the second and the third cases of infection with the new variant in the country were sequenced in Bucharest.

With 413 new COVID-19 cases, the capital remains the city with the largest number of infections in the country. Nationwide, 2,699 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed cases to 706,475.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines. Romania started its first phase of vaccination campaign on Dec. 27, and 374,681 people have so far been inoculated.

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 64 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 15.

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