Romanian government to lift COVID restrictions from March 9

People wearing protective masks walk at market in Bucharest
People wearing protective masks walk in a market, following the introduction of new restrictions imposed by the government after a surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Bucharest, Romania, October 26, 2021. Inquam Photos/George Calin via REUTERS

BUCHAREST, March 8 (Reuters) - Romania will lift all COVID restrictions from Wednesday including requiring a digital pass to access institutions and the obligation to wear protective masks both indoors and outside, Health Minister Alexandru Rafila said on Tuesday.

The decision stems from the coalition government's decision to no longer extend a nation-wide state of alert two years after the pandemic first hit Romania.

The country remains the European Union's second-least vaccinated state, with just under 42% of the population fully inoculated amid distrust in state institutions and poor vaccine education. The pandemic has killed 64,094 people in the EU state of 20 million.

The number of new coronavirus infections in Romania stood at 5,461 on Tuesday, far off a record high 40,018 cases at the start of February.

Other restrictions which will be lifted include curfews for shops, capacity limits for restaurants, theatres and events and mandatory passenger locator forms for travelers. The government will no longer enforce isolating positive cases, Rafila said, adding it will only recommend it.

Rafila had initially recommended lifting restrictions in stages. On Tuesday, he recommended Romanians continue wearing masks indoors and avoid crowds.

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Louise Heavens

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