From midnight, the government is reintroducing the state of emergency in connection the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Tuesday in a video on Facebook. He called on lawmakers to reintroduce the state of emergency for 90 days.
Orbán also said the government is imposing a curfew between midnight and 5am, and nightclubs will be ordered to close.
Also, parking will be made free of charge once again with a view to reducing crowds on public transport, he said.
The prime minister said sporting events, cinemas and theatres will have to restrict audiences to using every third seat, and face masks must be worn. The authorities will inspect all events and fine transgressors.
Venues that fail to observe the rules will be shut down immediately.
Those who don’t observe the rules, don’t wear masks endanger not just their own lives but also those of others”
Orbán said the epidemic was gaining momentum, noting that Austria now had 1.5 times as many infections per million people as Hungary. “And the situation is even worse further out to the west,” he added. The PM said these indicators were crucial because Hungary tends to be about 5-7 days behind Austria in terms of the state of the epidemic. If this trend holds, Hungary’s hospitals will be close to exhausting their capacities by mid-December, he said.
Orbán said that, just as in the spring, it was again the elderly and people suffering from chronic illnesses who are most vulnerable to Covid-19. “This means that our parents and grandparents are in serious danger.”
The Prime Minister said it was time to take further steps to protect the operations of the country’s hospitals and the lives of the elderly.
Orbán noted that it recently took parliament two weeks to approve stricter sanctions for violations of the rules on mask-wearing. “This is absurd, especially in the current situation,” he said. “If the virus is spreading quickly, then we, too must be quick.”
“We must put political disagreements aside and we’ll need swift action and timely measures,” he said.
The prime minister also said that doctors will receive wage hikes and that hospitals had all the necessary protective equipment at their disposal. He said Hungary had the third largest reserves of hospital beds in Europe after Germany and Austria and the largest reserve of ventilators.
The prime minister praised Hungary’s doctors and nurses for their efforts in treating patients, but conceded that only a vaccine would end the pandemic.
“The ultimate solution will be a vaccine, but this is within sight now,” Orbán said. “We must hold out until a vaccine is developed,” he added, noting that Hungary was in talks with the European Union, Russia, China and Israel on buying vaccines once they are developed.