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Measures Work, Trends Are Good, But This Relaxation Is Likely Premature

A month ago, things looked bad over here, but then our authorities actually implemented some good measures, which made a significant difference for the vaccination campaign, the vaccination marathons and drive-in centers being successful even beyond expectations and the fact that now people can just show up at any vaccination center and get vaccinated as long as enough doses are available, which is usually the case, also making quite a difference. So, if at first I did suspect some, shall we say, creativity in the low numbers that were reported before and around Easter, the constantly improving epidemiological situation reported since then seems to make sense if you pair that with the, albeit limited, restrictions which had so far been imposed. The Indian variant did start showing up around here too though, so it remains to be seen how that will affect things.

Either way, the point of this post is the fact that those good measures risk being undermined by the premature relaxation that started yesterday. There were vaccination targets announced for each month and promises that relaxation measures will follow if they are hit, but then, instead of at least waiting for the end of the month and taking the first such steps from the start of June, the relaxation began on May 15. Masks no longer need to be worn outdoors except in typically crowded places such as markets, fairs, public transportation stations or locations where protests, concerts or other such gatherings take place, though a local decision also makes them still required if standing within 50 meters of an educational institution in Bucharest. The curfew and the restrictions on the opening hours of businesses are eliminated, only restaurants still needing to be closed for a few hours, between midnight and 5 AM, but otherwise being allowed to have clients indoors as well, up to 50% of the maximum capacity normally but possibly even above that limit if all clients are fully vaccinated, unless there are more than three confirmed cases per one thousand people over the past two weeks in that area. With that same condition, cultural, artistic and entertainment activities can be organized outdoors, with up to 500 spectators, as long as at least two square meters are available for each. Drive-in shows are also permitted, as long as there are no more than four people from different families in a car, which strikes me as an almost irrelevant limitation. And spectators are again allowed for sports that take place outdoors, up to 25% of the arena’s capacity, and only if all are either vaccinated or show a negative test. It had initially been announced that those who can prove they had the disease 15 to 90 days before the event could also take part, but the removal of this option seems to be the only step back that, I assume, medical advisers managed to get politicians to take.

Seeing as, despite this positive trend, the numbers are just now, just because of the low number of tests done over the weekend, getting to the level of the worst days we had last spring, during the state of emergency, this strikes me as too hasty, and done for political rather than medical reasons. Yes, things are moving in the right direction, but this crisis is far from over, and won’t be until and unless we’ll have a truly effective and readily available cure, not just vaccines. Besides, three quarters of the population is yet to be vaccinated at all, only about one in six got both doses, and new variants may well undermine the efficiency of vaccines anyway, plus that the resistance developed as a result of the vaccines, not to mention going through the disease, goes away in time, possibly even within months. So a hasty relaxation such as this is likely to have negative effects that will be seen in time, and when more such measures will follow on June 1 and again on July 1, with what will be nearly a “return to normal” scheduled for August 1 unless the situation will worsen drastically by then… Well, they make it far from certain that said condition will be met.

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