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Health Minister announces bill in the making to regulate quarantine and isolation terms


Health Minister Nelu Tataru said on Friday that a bill will be designed to render regulations on the state of quarantine and compulsory hospitalization compliant with the recommendations of the Constitutional Court, and that the respective regulatory act will be presented at the government meeting next week.

"We are preparing a legislative project that we will also promote at the government meeting next week, to thoroughly clarify the aspects tackled in the recommendations of the Constitutional Court - communicable disease, quarantine, isolation, treatment and hospitalization. We will thus re-legislate the recommendations and articles of Law 95, Law 50 or of Emergency Ordinance No. 99 which were found non-compliant by the Constitutional Court, but we need your cooperation, we need the input of the medical body to be able to manage this moment. (...) We will transpose the Constitutional Court's recommendations for clarity and predictability into this legislative project, we will also come back with a minister's order regarding isolation," Tataru told a press conference at the government headquarters.

Asked what will happen if the proposed bill does not get the necessary support, the Health Minister replied: "I don't think we will fall short of support at this time, when this is a national, not a political issue to be handled strictly in Parliament."

Tataru also explained that the number of beds in Bucharest's intensive care units is low, and that there is still a strong community transmission, as well as emerging coronavirus hotspots.

"Our current recommendations are for the companies, for the civilian population to collaborate for the observance of the regulations. With the exceptions provided, let everybody wear a mask indoors, in public transportation, at work. We have a strong community transmission, we have emerging coronavirus hotspots, case numbers are not high individually, but they are disseminated across the entire country. I further recommend the maintenance of these precautions. (...) This first moment of the pandemic isn't over yet," Tataru said.

The Constitutional Court of Romania published on Wednesday the reasoning for its June 25 ruling declaring the state of quarantine and compulsory hospitalization unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court considers that the legal provisions on compulsory hospitalization and quarantine during the epidemic are unconstitutional, because they lack clarity and predictability, are uncertain and difficult to anticipate and do not offer guarantees regarding the observance of fundamental rights and freedoms.

The Court also argues that the declaration of quarantine in Romania through OUG represents a genuine deprivation of liberty and a restriction of fundamental rights.

Health Minister said that presently there is no danger of a state of emergency being imposed, but, if necessary, the state of alert will be extended. "There have been three weeks of constant increase in the number of cases. (...) To the extent that this evolution allows us, we will continue with relaxations, including those restaurants, we had discussions yesterday [e.n. - Thursday], together with Mr. Prime Minister, with those in the hospitality industry, today a working group has been established exactly for those measures and application norms in view of reopening restaurants. (...) If the evolution allows for it, we will have these relaxations, if the evolution does not allow for it, we will not have these relaxations. If it's necessary, we will have a prolongation of the state of alert. (...) At this moment, we do not have this danger of the state of emergency, we are managing the case count and we are thinking of the evolution until July 15 to see if it's necessary to extend the state of alert or not," said Tataru at the Victoria Palace.

The minister also referred to asymptomatic patients, stating that their evaluation is conducted by the attending physician. "That attending physician also has to assume his decision when he discharges or doesn't discharge the patient. A discharge on request can be made if the doctor and the patient take responsibility for that discharge. (...) The isolation recommendation must exist, and if the discharged patient takes responsibility for that discharge, knowing he is testing positive, and later an epidemiological inquiry incriminates him, then he fall under the art. 352 of the Penal Code," the Health Minister warned.

In what regards the secondment of medical staff, Tataru said that in the state of alert it is carried out with the agreement of the employer and the employee. "All throughout the state of emergency we could conduct the secondment, during the state of alert only with the agreement of the person involved and the employer. If this secondment doesn't exist, we will adapt by transferring or managing the medical activity where we have this personnel," said Tataru.