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Article

14 Apr 2020

Author:
Marcel Gascón Barberá, BalkanInsight

Travel restrictions lifted for Romanian migrant agricultural workers despite concerns over social distancing

"Western Demand Wins Romanian Workers Coronavirus Travel Waiver", 14 April 2020

Scenes of the packed terminal, breaking all social-distancing restrictions imposed by the government to tackle the spread of COVID-19, caused consternation in the European Union country, where the novel coronavirus had killed more than 300 people as of Sunday.

But they also underscore the trade-off between tackling the pandemic and protecting economies: Western European agriculture is dependent on cheap Eastern European labour, and tens of thousands of Romanians and their families are dependent on the pay...

The authorities, recruiters and foreign employers have been accused of endangering lives. 

But the government [...] is promising measures to make sure distancing regulations are respected...

At the other end, Germany has lifted coronavirus travel restrictions for migrant workers...

Likewise, Italy’s Confederation of Direct Harvesters, Coldiretti, says 15,000 Romanians will travel to the region of Veneto ... to pick fruit and vegetables this spring.

Spain, another of Europe’s worst-hit countries, is preparing a decree to allow farmers to hire 150,000 temporary workers; Britain, too, needs 70,000...

Vilnius-based recruitment multinational Qbis [...] cited the fact that many migrants with experience in seasonal agricultural work have been stranded in Western Europe by the pandemic with no immediate source of income...

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