Lawmakers on Monday passed a bill aimed at extending a state of emergency and granting the government special powers to take extraordinary measures to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
Among the measures, flouting quarantine regulations is punishable by up to three years in prison. Also, anyone who disseminates fake news or distorted real information in a way that obstructs the effectiveness of the response to the epidemic is a crime punishable by 1-5 years in prison.
Prior to the vote, Hungary’s opposition parties said they would not support the government’s bill on the response to the novel coronavirus epidemic giving special powers to the Orbán government unless a timeframe was included in the legislation.
The bill passed with 137 votes in favour and 53 against in a fast-tracked procedure. Submitted by the justice minister, the bill passed with the required two-thirds of votes.
Coronavirus: Opposition Demands Inclusion of Timeframe in Epidemic Response Bill
The new legislation allows the government to take steps that deviate from regulations to ensure people’s health, legal security and economic stability. It also keeps in force measures the government has taken so far. It allows the government to prolong previously introduced epidemic-related amendments to the constitution for the duration of the emergency.
The government will regularly brief the house speaker and group leaders on the measures taken should parliament lack a quorum.
The new legislation will allow Hungary’s Constitutional Court to continue working during the state of emergency. Meetings will take place on electronic platforms if necessary, and the court’s head can choose to deviate from standard procedures.
All elections, by-elections and referendums will be postponed and held within 15 days of the end of the state of emergency.
The law will come into effect on Tuesday and will end by a decision of parliament once the state of emergency has been declared over.
Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI