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Romanian families protest against mandatory use of masks at school

Several hundred Romanians, including many families with young children, protested measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, especially social distancing and the mandatory use of masks in schools.

Like other countries in Europe, the number of new cases of the virus has increased in recent days in Romania, with 1,713 cases recorded earlier this week and 1,333 more cases on Saturday. In all, Romania has recorded 111,550 cases of Covid-19, with 4,402 confirmed deaths.

About 2.8 million Romanian pupils kicked off their academic year on Monday, with classes being held in classrooms, online or a combination of the two, depending on the severity of the epidemic in a particular region. Desks must be at least 1 meter away, students and teachers must wear masks at elementary school level or above, and classrooms are disinfected daily.

Demonstrators in the University Square in Bucharest chanted slogans against President Klaus Iohannes and Prime Minister Ludovic Orban and linked the similarities between the preventive measures against the epidemic and the communist and Nazi regimes.

One speaker at the march compared the torture of dissidents during communism.

A large sign carried by a protester included a recent quote from Mr. Yohannes about safety measures – “Children easily get used to unpleasant things” – over a picture of children behind barbed wire fences in a concentration camp

Protesters also highlighted the symbolism of holding the rally at the University Square, where protests in 1989 against dictator Nicolae Ceausescu brought about the downfall of his Communist regime.

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Only police and media personnel wore masks at the event, as the participants, many of whom wore Romanian flags, did not respect social distancing rules either.