The government is extending coronavirus-related restrictions until March 1, Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, told a regular press briefing on Thursday.
The government made the decision after a meeting of the operative body responsible for handling the epidemic on Wednesday, Gulyás said. Since they were introduced in November, the restrictions have proven to be effective in curbing the epidemic, he said. However, any easing without widespread vaccination would trigger further waves, and lead to even stricter measures later on, he added.
Lockdowns in most western European countries are far more severe than Hungary’s restrictions, as a third wave of the pandemic seems to be spreading, Gulyás said.
The government will also extend its special powers for 15 days from midnight on February 7, and request parliament to extend the special legal order in force with a further 90 days, Gulyás said.
The government will review the situation in the second half of February, he said.
Gulyás said the restrictions could only be eased if the number of active infections continues to drop, or if enough vaccines were at hand.
Gulyás said that in order to speed up vaccine procurement, the government has decided to green-light the use of any coronavirus vaccine used to inoculate over one million people worldwide and licenced for emergency use elsewhere. Hungary’s public health authority will continue to assess all vaccines imported to Hungary, he added.
Regarding government measures to protect the economy, the minister noted the coronavirus pandemic had taken a toll on the hospitality industry. After talks with the sector’s representatives, the government is taking steps to speed up the payment of wage support for entrepreneurs hit by the pandemic, he said. Since the scheme’s introduction in November, the sector’s players have applied for a total of 27 billion forints, 7 billion of which has already been paid out, he said.
Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI