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Govʼt introduces state of ʼpandemic preparednessʼ

Hungaryʼs government has introduced a state of "pandemic preparedness" across the entire country with the declaration of a "health crisis", a decree published in the latest issue of the official gazette Magyar Közlöny shows.

Photo by DimaBerlin/

The state of "pandemic preparedness" comes into force from Thursday, the day after a state of emergency decreed on March 11 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus ended.

The government will review the necessity of the state of pandemic preparedness every three months, according to the decree which will remain in force until December 18, 2020.

The government also issued a number of decrees on provisional measures connected to the end of the state of emergency.

The decrees empower Hungaryʼs Chief Medical Officer - as long as there is a health crisis - to make temporary changes to the number of hospital beds and to the proportion of healthcare professionals assigned to in- and out-patient care.

They require surgical masks or other mouth and nose coverings to be worn by all people over the age of six on public transport and in shops. Staff in enclosed areas of restaurants and cafes are also required to wear masks or other mouth and nose coverings while serving.

The decrees allow musical and dance performances, either outdoors or at enclosed venues, either public or open only to invited guests, to take place if the number of people at the event, including ones working at the venue, does not exceed 500.

They establish a successor to the body earlier established to coordinate Hungaryʼs response to the pandemic. The successor, also dubbed the Operative Board, will make recommendations to the government and coordinate and implement government measures related to maintaining the state of pandemic preparedness.

The decrees allow the placement of "hospital commanders", as during the state of emergency.

They outline a broad range of strategic sectors to which provisions in legislation approved by Parliament earlier in the week that give the government tools to block hostile takeovers of Hungarian companies by foreigners apply. They include the chemicals, telecommunications, defense, energy, food, farm, healthcare, ICT, construction, transport, tourism and waste management sectors, among others.

The decrees allow public, open-ended alternative investment funds to borrow "exclusively for liquidity purposes" up to 30% of assets for a period of no longer than five years in the framework of the monetary policy tool chest outlined in the central bank act.

Voluntary pension funds are also allowed to borrow in the framework of the monetary policy tool chest to cover both operating and liquidity reserves until the end of 2020.