The most affected industries from Romania – the cultural, hospitality, independent artists, and entertainment industry workers have joined forces to demand clear measures from the national authorities to reopen the sectors affected by the COVID-19 restrictions imposed in the last year.
16th of May 2021 marked one year since important industries of the Romanian economy have been overwhelmingly affected or, in some cases, 100% affected by the restrictions imposed by the authorities in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this year, these industries tried to have a dialogue with the Romanian authorities, showed openness in finding survival solutions, and waited for a response from the state representatives.
Representatives of the cultural industry (AROC, UNTOLD, ELECTRIC CASTLE, EMAGIC, TIFF, ARTMANIA, CLUJ CULTURAL CENTRE), of hospitality (HORA EMPLOYMENT ORGANISATION, TOURISM ALLIANCE, FEDERATION OF THE HOTEL INDUSTRY IN ROMANIA), independent artists, workers from the entertainment (ALIS, PACTE), and conferences industries sat down at a table and demanded in a common voice the authorities to make a plan of proposals and measures to provide predictability and to help reopen all these sectors much affected by the pandemic. These industries have united their forces and have demanded four measures:
• The necessity of a recovery plan to bring coherence and predictability.
• The urgent organization of an inter-ministerial working group to work on the plan of measures
• The organization of a decisional group led by the prime minister Florin Cîțu which can quickly approve the measures identified in the inter-ministerial working group
• Compensatory measures for the incurred losses
“Romanian authorities do not love the smile industry. We want working groups! it cannot be like this anymore”. The representatives of the affected industries by the pandemic have several discontents and say that the Romanian authorities have taken few measures, inadequate and delayed, that haven’t been previously supported by a recovery plan, and will only undo all the progress made by all these sectors in the last years.
Bogdan Buta, Untold: „We came with a constructive approach and sound the alarm. We have solutions and measures, but we need commitment. It has certainly been a difficult year for everyone, however certain categories are effectively restricted from fundamental rights that are blocked without alternative and dialogue. We are responsible as possible, as proof we have been involved since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been proactive and we have donated our logistics to the Romanian hospitals, we are responsible entities and we want to help. The cultural sector was the first to be closed and is still suffering. Millions of people enjoy everything our industries have to offer. Behind them are hundreds of employees, millions of euros attracted to our economy by this sector. All the European countries have come with compensatory measures for the cultural domain. It is very important to play by the same rules and to base our decisions on scientific solutions: rapid tests at the entrance, vaccination certificate, antibody certificate. We only need decisions.”
Mihai Păun, Electric Castle: “We are waiting from the authorities for the same responsibility and respect that we showed in the last year. We have prioritized safety, we have followed and respected all the rules, without getting anything in return. It is time for our authorities to respond with the same respect: to present a strategy that will allow us to settle for the next months and adopt compensatory measures for all the losses that we have suffered because of the imposed restrictions and which we will carry with us”.
Tudor Giurgiu, TIFF: “Although TIFF has a formula of organization and a specific that will, theoretically, will allow it to happen this summer, as in 2020, we are with all our colleagues in the events sector, Horeca, seriously affected by the crisis, by the lack of concrete scenarios to allow them to resume their activity, in safe conditions. There is a lack of trust in all these people who are not beginners or do not care.”
Dragoș Anastasiu, Tourism Alliance: “I thought of what unites us and how we can all have the same name, all of us staying here at the same table, and I think we can call ourselves the industry of experiences and smiles, because all of us here are bringing smiles upon people’s faces. Now, in these times, we have a strange experience, with forced smiles. I have been in constant contact with the state authorities for 1 year. We feel like a beautiful girl, walked through the park, with a cake, seduced, but it seems that Romanian authorities do not love the smile industry. We only have promises that aren’t becoming concrete measures. After this pandemic, we will not have anyone to reopen restaurants, bars, and festivals with. From this point of view, the Romanian authorities do not love the smile industry. We need a decision-making forum and to meet with the line ministries who are deciding the rules. No more ping pong. It is necessary for the survival of the smile industry. We can help solve the pandemic, as long as we have over 1 million people vaccinated, and millions of people who have antibodies and as long as we have the rapid tests, there is no real reason why these people cannot benefit from mobility and social presence, freedom of meeting again with their friends and smile and live experiences. I think this message is clear. There is no reason not to sit at the table with authorities, especially since they haven’t been able to offer us compensations for 1 year.”
At the press conference has also spoken Steven Kruijff, GOODLIVE who organized the latest test event in Germany. Steven presented a part of the conclusions of this test, and he said that “after all the tests, with all the safety measures taken, such as rapid testing, proof of vaccination, antibodies certificated it turned out that people are safer at a festival if they went to a local supermarket.”
The representatives of these industries also call for economic measures in line with the situation of the affected sectors: a fair state aid scheme, adopted as a matter of urgency, providing for fair compensations for all affected operators, regardless of the field of activity and form of action, and also, a national restart plan, with the involvement of specialists, and based on predictability.
Daniel Mischie, Hora Employment Organisation: “We are dissatisfied with the measures taken by the central administration and our feedback is negative. The HORECA operators have respected and followed these measures imposed by the authorities, however the authorities are not respecting what they have established together with the industry, what they have promised to the industry. We demand that the authorities set an example by respecting the laws in force so that the industries can also respect these rules. Those who are not following the rules are exceptions that are aggressively exploited by the media. In Bucharest are 10.000 locations that are waiting for a decision from the perfect and scientific councils. We urgently need the financial compensations that have been promised to us for 2020, and also for 2021, as well as a concrete and achievable support plan.”
Călin Ile, Romanian Hotel Industry Federation: “The Romanian state does not take any action plan and people cannot make plans. You can’t apply the same measures for a sector that has fallen by 10% and for one that has fallen by 70% or even completely closed sectors. We are demanding the authorities to assume a plan that allows predictability for operators, employees and the country’s population.”
Dragoș Banu (PaCTE) and Bogdan Nedelcu (ALIS Association), both representing the employers of production and workers in the entertainment industry said that already 30% of those who worked in this field changed their jobs and the rest of them are in extremely hard financial situation. Moreover, we risk reopening events and not having anyone to do our jobs if the state is late in action. In this context, it will be possible to work exclusively with firms outside the country because the Romanian engineering companies will no longer exist. In the same serious situation are also the ticketing companies from Romania who have lost over 50% of specialists.
Independent artists and cultural operators are also mentioning that their fundamental right to work is restricted, without being compensated in any way for the losses suffered in the last year, and Ștefan Teișanu, the representative of Cluj Cultural Centre has pointed out that although the cultural industries contribute annually with up to 3% to the GDP of Romania and until now has not received support from the Government in this crisis.
Adrian Despot, artist: “The Government asks us for our support in various social and civil campaigns, when a message must be sent. But now who is helping us, the artists? The compensations are the most important ones, and then we need a plan to restart. Without these, the last thing the musicians can do will be to play the burial of an industry. All of my colleagues from this table represent the activities performed at the highest degree of professionalism. In the lack of a recovery plan, we will all transform ourselves into a circus of amateurs.”
Chef Foa (Flavours & Street Food Festival Ro) presented the actual situation through an analogy with the field that promoted him “You praise yourself you cook the best food in vain if you deliver an empty plate. There are solutions and measures, but all of them must be put into practice as soon as possible.”
Avi Cicirean, the representative of Brand Minds and the organizers of fairs and conferences stated, among other things, that all of us here have fulfilled their dreams, which in the last year they became nightmares.