On 16 March 2020, in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Romanian President issued a presidential decree declaring a state of emergency on the entire territory of Romania for the next 30 days (which can be extended, if needed) (the Decree). The Decree entered into force and started to produce effects upon its publication in the Official Gazette of Romania on 16 March 2020, but it is subject to approval by the Romanian Parliament. The Decree sets up emergency measures of immediate applicability and emergency measures which can be applied gradually depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 crisis.
Just a few highlights from the measures with immediate applicability of interest for the business environment:
1. What happens to litigation and enforcement proceedings? What about Trade Registry operations?
a. Statutes of limitation terms are suspended.
b. Only “very urgent” litigation proceedings will continue (the concept of “very urgent” remains to be defined). Any non-urgent civil litigation and related appeal terms are suspended by operation of law during the emergency state.
c. Enforcement proceedings continue only if the sanitary discipline rules can be observed.
d. Trade Registry operations are still running remotely with submissions for new registrations based on the “extended electronic signature” (not very useful given that such extended electronic signature is not readily available for many entities).
2. What about work/employment relations?
a.Wherever possible, employers must arrange for work from home or telework (labor authorities are already checking this as of today). Work from home or telework can be imposed by unilateral decision of the employer communicated to the employees.
b. Existing collective bargaining agreements remain in place (even those due to expire during the state of emergency).
c. No more controls from the labor authorities except for those relating to the application of the exceptional measures in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, complaints relating to behaviours with a high degree of social danger and work accidents.
d. No more work conflicts allowed in some strategic industries (energy and other utilities, healthcare, telecom, media etc).
e. Paid leave (under certain conditions) for parents with children required to stay at home following the lockdown of educational units.
f. Other measures of support for the employers and employees affected by the COVID-19 crisis – specific rules expected to follow.
3. Other economic measures with major impact?
a. If needed, potential seizure of production units for materials and equipment required to fight against the COVID-19 infection. This is a temporary measure (except for consumables which are definitively seized). Any seizure is to be done against compensation.
b. Direct acquisitions of goods required for fighting the COVID-19 infection (so no more public procurement procedures in such cases).
c. Emergency certificates to be issued by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Business Environment, upon request of affected entities and based on justifying documents (this will be very useful in future discussions about failure by such entities to comply with various contractual obligations).
d. Other measures aimed at supporting the companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis – specific rules expected to follow.
e. Extended validity for documents issued by public authorities and due to expire during the emergency state.
f. Possibility of the authorities to cap the price for certain drugs, medical equipment, basic food or public utilities up to the average price calculated by reference to the three months prior to the state of emergency being declared.
g. The percentage of the clawback tax (relevant for the pharma industry) for the 1st quarter of 2020 is capped at the same level as for the 4th quarter of 2019.
h. Specific rules for payment of healthcare services settled from public funds.
The emergency measures which can be adopted gradually include (without limitation): quarantine of entire properties or areas, prohibition/increased restriction of the free movement, temporary closure of certain hotels, clubs, restaurants etc, reorganization of hospitals for better management of the COVID-19 patients, seizure of the necessary medical equipment and consumables stocks, production or distribution capacities required to fight against the epidemic.
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