PM Orban: We defeated the third wave of the epidemic

(Photo: V4 Agency)

By: V4 Agency

By the weekend we will have five million inoculated citizens, which means we have defeated the third wave of the epidemic. In terms of the pandemic, Hungary is safer and more protected today than any other country in the EU, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on Friday.

Once 5 million people have been inoculated, further restrictive measures imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic will be lifted in Hungary, Hungary’s prime minister said.

Accordingly, the night curfew will be lifted, the opening hours of shops and restaurants will no longer be restricted, and mandatory mask-wearing in public spaces will be abolished.

People will be allowed to do sports in public areas and attend private and family events up to 50 participants, and wedding parties can be held for up to 200 people without restrictions. When it comes to hotels and restaurants, these facilities’ operators must make sure that such events are hosted in separate rooms.

In the future, outdoor events can be organised, but a ban on gatherings larger than 500 people will remain in place. Indoor events can only be attended by those who possess an immunity certificate, PM Orban said, adding that it continues to be mandatory for people attending music and dance events to present a valid vaccination certificate.

Hungary’s prime minister highlighted that over 50 per cent of the population have been inoculated in Hungary, which is one of the best results in Europe. As he put it,

„we have contained, essentially defeated” the third wave of the epidemic.

At the same time, Mr Orban advised caution, because three million people are still not vaccinated, and with the exception of Serbia, inoculation rates are much lower in the countries bordering Hungary. He warned that protection levels against the new virus mutations must also be monitored.

Regarding vaccine supplies, apart from the already administered jabs, Hungary has 7.3 million Pfizer, 1.2 million Moderna, 4 million Jansen and 4.7 million AstraZeneca doses either ordered, or already stacked in warehouses, PM Orban said. In addition to the above, eastern vaccines are also at our disposal, he added.

V4 country withdraws from further vaccine procurement by Brussels

The withdrawal was announced by the head of the Prime Minister’s office at the online press briefing on Thursday.

“We can even ensure a third and a fourth round of vaccinations,” Viktor Orban said, adding that they have applied foresight and prepared for every possibility. In addition, Hungary’s own vaccine production facility will start operating soon, limiting exposure to international influences in this regard, he added.

Hungary’s premier also spoke of the need to extend the state of emergency in order to maintain the government’s ability to act quickly, as 3 million people are still not vaccinated, and new, mutant variants of the virus are appearing around us.

He stressed that Hungary’s left wing decided not to vote for the extension, adding that the left has failed to participate in the country’s pandemic response so far. The opposition’s logic is that what is bad for the country is good for the political left, as this is how they want to grab power. In a pandemic situation, however, such behaviour is irresponsible, Mr Orban said. The government trusts that the special legal order can be rescinded this summer, he added.

The Hungarian government also decided to extend the moratorium on loan repayments, Mr Orban said, stressing that the moratorium’s main beneficiaries are households and businesses. He added that the moratorium was needed by low-income, middle class people.

Speaking about the good first quarter performance of the Hungarian economy, PM Orban said he was not surprised by the results. He said he always expects a larger growth than the experts or his finance minister, which is why he anticipates phenomenal Q2 results, as Hungary’s employment figures are starting to surpass pre-pandemic levels. In the next few months, more Hungarians are expected to enter the labour market, and even more Hungarians will have a job.

Once 5 million people are inoculated, a new phase focused on restarting the economy begins. Calculations regarding the minimum wage for 2022 will soon be under way. Hungary has a work-based economy, which means economic policy must also focus on, and support those who work, Mr Orban said.