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Lawmakers extend govʼt emergency powers for 90 days

Parliament voted on Tuesday to extend the governmentʼs state-of-emergency powers for another 90 days to contain the spread of the coronavirus, state news wire MTI reports.

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The legislation was approved in an expedited procedure with a vote of 180 for and one against.

 The government declared a state of emergency, or "state of danger" as it is called in the legislation, on November 4. Hungarian law allows such a declaration to remain in force for 15 days, but any extension requires the approval of Parliament.

The legislation was approved against the backdrop of quickly rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said days earlier that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients could reach 30,000-32,000 by early December, testing the limits of the healthcare system.

On Monday, Orbán announced a raft of new pandemic restrictions that came into force at midnight on Tuesday for a period of 30 days, contingent upon lawmakersʼ extension of the governmentʼs state-of-emergency powers.

The legislation requires the government to inform lawmakers of pandemic measures it takes on a regular basis during plenary sessions. If plenary sessions are not held, the government must inform the House Speaker and the leaders of all of the parliamentary groups of steps it is taking.

The legislation prohibits by-elections from being scheduled during the state of emergency and postpones those that are scheduled. Any such by-elections must be scheduled or rescheduled within 15 days after the state of emergency ends.

It stipulates that referendums may not be initiated until 15 days after the state of emergency ends.