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In light of the coronavirus pandemic, only two official state events will be held this year to commemorate Hungary’s 1956 uprising against Soviet rule, Zoltán Kovács, the state secretary for international communications, announced on Wednesday.

The national flag will be hoisted with military honors in a ceremony beginning at 9am in front of the Parliament building, Kovács said in a statement. The other event will be the presentation of Hungarian state awards.

In addition to the official events, on October 22nd, a laser show will be projected onto the Foreign Ministry building. Between October 22nd and November 4th, photos marking the most important sites of the freedom fight will be shown around Budapest.

At the same time, National Chief Medical Officer Cecilia Müller also said at the daily press conference of the operative board that the central ceremonies on October 23rd will be significantly reduced.

According to the Chief Medical Officer, besides the flag-raising and awards ceremony, there will be no other central, state event as they would like to avoid the gathering of large crowds. Municipalities are also asked to pay attention to these considerations.

However, earlier this week, Miklós Kásler, the Minister of Human Resources, also made a statement about the October 23rd events. Although the peak of the epidemic is imminent, according to the minister, celebrations and Christmas fairs can still be held.

One of the documents of EMMI’s State Secretariat for Health came into the possession of Hungarian television channel RTL Klub. Although the document also mentions that the number of active infected people will double from 18-19,000 to 38-40,000 in one month, it does not conclude from this that ceremonies cannot be held, but on the contrary, the document says that events could be held with certain precautions. These include keeping a distance of 1.5 meters, wearing a mask, washing and disinfecting hands regularly, and people who feel sick should not participate.

Correction: later, the Ministry of Human Resources released a statement saying that the RTL Klub news report on Christmas fairs incorrectly stated that according to Minister of Human Resources Miklós Kásler, these events could be held despite the growing number of those infected with the coronavirus. They write that “the EMMI Minister did not say, nor did the EMMI State Secretariat for Health describe in any document, that Christmas fairs could be held.” The Ministry asked every media outlet that published RTL’s “fake news” to release their statements with corrections. You can read more about the Ministry’s statement here.

However, it seems that the government came to a different conclusion than the Human Resources minister regarding mass events during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the significantly less official commemorating events for October 23rd, the Budapest Festival and Tourism Center also announced on Monday that the Christmas fair in Vörösmarty Square will not be held due to the epidemic, and the fair will also be canceled at Deák Square and the town hall.

 featured photo: Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI

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