Orbán outlines next step of reopening plan, terraces to reopen tomorrow

Government

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Outdoor dining will be allowed again from Saturday, as the number of people inoculated against the coronavirus in Hungary has reached 3.5 million, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a weekly interview on public radio. He also outlined the broad range of services which will be available for people with COVID immunity certificates, once the number of inoculated increases to 4 million.

The start of the evening curfew will be pushed back from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. starting tomorrow, Orbán noted.

According to state news wire MTI, the PM said on Kossuth Rádió that the 4 mln threshold could be reached by "Wednesday or Thursday" of the coming week, after which time people with immunity certificates may return to theaters, dance performances, concerts, the circus, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, baths, skating rinks, zoos, amusement parks, museums, libraries, and sporting events.

Hotels will also re-open to people with immunity certificates as will interior dining areas at restaurants, he added.

Orbán acknowledged "debates over the effectiveness of vaccines", but cited a report he heard earlier Friday "that clearly stated the infection rate for people who received a single jab [of Covid vaccine] is somewhere around 1%".

"Whoever has had their first jab can basically be seen as protected," he said.

Orbán said all Hungarians registered to be vaccinated could be inoculated by "around the middle of May", after which time the chance to be vaccinated in Hungary would be open to any Hungarian national anywhere in the world.

He also said that COVID vaccination would be opened to Hungarians aged 16-18, but only with the Pfizer vaccine. Enough of the Pfizer vaccines are being set aside to inoculate the age group, he added.

Addressing criticism concerning COVID death rates in Hungary, Orbán noted that Hungarian statistics do not discriminate between people who have "died with Covid or died from Covid", while European statistics do.

Commenting on talks scheduled in Brussels later on Friday on Hungary's Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) plan, the PM said the financial issues are "in order", with "3-4 matters remaining open that can be cleared up by the experts".

He said that questions concerning the future of the European Union would be more pressing at the talks.

"A joint economic crisis management program has started in the European Union the likes of which has never been seen. I want to know if it is a one-off or if it will be repeated. I want to see how the EU will prepare for a possible situation similar to the pandemic one at present, and what lessons it has learned from its actions in recent months. I want to see how ties with the new U.S. administration are shaping up, and whether Hungary and the European Union will be squeezed between China and America, or whether, as [French] President Macron has said, there will be strategic sovereignty or autonomy...or whether we'll follow the Americans or our own path," Orbán said.

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