Romanians face up to 15 years in prison if they violate measures imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the government announced on Thursday.
An emergency decree lays down the harshest punishment for those who know they have the disease and flout the rules — up to 15 years if someone gets infected and dies as a result of their actions.
Anyone failing to respect quarantine rules could face up to three years in prison, going up to five if their actions lead to the infection of another person.
Around 3,800 people have been placed in quarantine in Romania, mostly people returning from high-risk areas or those who have had contact with a confirmed or suspected coronavirus patient.
“We can’t accept that irresponsible citizens who should be isolated don’t respect the rules, walk around freely among others and risk making other people sick,” Prime Minister Ludovic Orban said.
The eastern European country has so far recorded 227 confirmed cases of the virus but no deaths, with 25 people having made a recovery.
“The numbers will go up for sure,” President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday during a videoconference with the prime minister and regional leaders.
Iohannis declared a state of emergency on Monday.
Restaurants and coffee shops are closed and gatherings of more than 100 people are banned.
Flights to and from Italy and Spain have been suspended.
With the Easter holiday on the horizon, Iohannis advised the Romanian diaspora — more than four million people — to avoid returning home.
“With sadness, but with sincerity, we must say that you shouldn’t return home this year,” he said, adding: “It’s basically impossible to travel throughout Europe.”