Hungary extends pandemic restrictions until Feb 1

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Hungary will extend restrictions in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus until February 1, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a weekly interview on public radio on Friday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

An evening curfew will remain in place and students in grades 9-12 will continue instruction online, Orbán said on Kossuth Rádió.

Hungary introduced a curfew between 8 p.m.in the evening and 5 a.m. in the morning early in November. At the same time, students in grades 9-12 moved to digital classrooms.

Orbán said Hungary had taken a different approach to pandemic restrictions than countries in the West, where measures have changed from week to week.

"We didn't take that path, because we thought that predictability builds confidence," he said. "Predictability is at least as important as efficiency," he added. 

He said Hungary's economic performance in 2021 would depend on when restrictions can be lifted, which is conditional on COVID-19 vaccinations. 

"We'll have different economic results if we can allow a return to everyday routines say in early March and different results if we do that in April, and different again if we can only do that in May," he noted.

The PM cautioned that the timetable for deliveries of coronavirus vaccines from various pharmaceutical companies in the West show "small numbers" and that "in reality, deliveries are not always of the scale that was promised".

"What is certain is that if we rely only on vaccines from the West, then restrictions will have to remain in place for a long time, for several months. If we find quality, tried, and tested vaccines that are safe from Israel, China, or Russia, then we can accelerate the process. But that will not happen if we rely only on vaccines from the West," he said.

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