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Curfew to end after number of inoculated reaches 5 mln

Government

Viktor Orbán

Image by Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán outlined an easing of pandemic restrictions that will come into effect after 5 million people in Hungary have been inoculated against the coronavirus in a weekly interview on public radio on Friday.

Orbán said the 5 million threshold would be reached at the weekend, after which time the evening curfew will end, as will mandatory closing times for catering and entertainment venues. 

People will no longer be required to wear masks in public spaces, team sports will be allowed in public areas, and family and private gatherings with up to 50 people and wedding receptions with up to 200 guests may be held without restriction, although catering establishments will be required to ensure private parties are separated from other customers, he added. 

Attending events at indoor venues will require an immunity certificate, while outdoor events with up to 500 participants may be held without restriction, he said. Concerts and dance performances will be open only to people with immunity certificates, he added.

We've broken the third wave [of the pandemic]", he said, noting that more than half of some 8 million Hungarian adults had been inoculated. Hungary's population is just under 10 million.

Orbán acknowledged that the vaccination rollout is slowing as registrations "trickle in". He added that because 3 million Hungarian adults are still not inoculated, because vaccination rates are lower in neighboring countries, with the exception of Serbia, and because coronavirus mutations still pose a threat, Hungary must be cautious and maintain a state of readiness.

The PM said a government decision to extend a blanket repayment moratorium in force since the spring of 2020 by two months until the end of August was taken to allow more time to hash out an agreement on what will follow when the moratorium expires.

He acknowledged lenders' interests but said their proposals regarding the moratorium "could not be accepted".

"I understand the bankers' arguments, too, but I don't think we need to give them priority right now. It's important that we weigh the professional factors, too, but at the moment our starting point must be unequivocally the interests of working people," he added. 

Orbán noted better-than-expected first-quarter GDP data released earlier in the week came as "no surprise" to him and augured "phenomenal" data for Q2, supported by the labor market recovery and the low base.

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