Details of pandemic restrictions published

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Legislation approved by lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon extending the governmentʼs state-of-emergency powers for a period of 90 days was published in the official gazette Magyar Közlöny late yesterday evening, as were decrees detailing the new restrictions, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

According to the decree, mandatory mask-wearing is extended to public areas to be designated by municipal council leaders in settlements with populations of over 10,000.

Tighter restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus came into force in Hungary at midnight on Tuesday. The measures are in force for a period of 30 days.

The restrictions include a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. in the morning. People who can certify they are working or commuting are exempt from the curfew. Exceptions are also made for health emergencies, as well as for dog-walkers who remain within 500 m of their residence.

All shops must close by 7 p.m., except for pharmacies and petrol stations.

Dining in at restaurants is prohibited, but take-out and home delivery are allowed. Workplace canteens may remain open.

Hotels are closed to tourists but open to business travelers.

All gatherings in public places are banned, although private and family gatherings with up to 10 people may take place.

The government leaves the decision to church leaders on whether or not to hold services.

Sports events are to take place without spectators.

Recreational and cultural facilities such as gyms, in-door swimming pools, museums, libraries, cinemas, and zoos must close.

Amateur team sports are banned, while individual sports, such as running or cycling, are allowed.

Students from the 9th grade and up will return to digital classrooms, as they did in the spring. But creches, kindergartens, and pre-schools will remain open, although all staff there will be tested for coronavirus.

Institutions of higher education must switch to online instruction, and dormitories must close.

Mandatory mask-wearing is extended to public areas to be designated by municipal council leaders in settlements with populations of over 10,000.

A decree on economic defense measures during the state of emergency exempts hard-hit businesses such as restaurants, cinemas, theaters, and museums, from payroll tax for the month of November. Those businesses may also apply for subsidies to cover up to half of payroll costs. Maintaining headcount is a condition for benefiting from either measure.

The decree offers commercial accommodations subsidies equivalent to 80% of net revenue from bookings made until November 8 for a period of 30 days.

Zoltán Guller, the head of the Hungarian Tourism Agency, told MTI on Wednesday that the subsidies covering 80% of the drop in revenue at commercial accommodations because of the new restrictions would come close to HUF 15 billion.

Vaccine coming soon, Orbán says

In an interview broadcast on public television late Tuesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said a COVID-19 vaccine would be available to Hungarians "in the foreseeable future".

He told news channel M1 that limited volumes of vaccine would "certainly" come from the European Union at the end of December or in January, and "perhaps" from elsewhere, adding that Hungary is keeping the possibility of acquiring vaccine from China, Russia, and Israel "on the table".

Orbán said the first vaccine that arrives in Hungary would go to Hungarians most vulnerable to the virus and to frontline workers.

He added that mass deliveries of vaccine from the EU were not expected to arrive sooner than April.

"There will be a partial easing around the end of December and January, and a full release in April," he said.

The PM added that a report on the effectiveness of the new restrictions could be made in two weeks.

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