On Monday, the government announced the suspension of the night curfew introduced as a result of the coronavirus for one night on Christmas Eve. Despite the decision, experts repeatedly warn everyone to be careful during the holiday season and not to take part in large family gatherings.
According to the government’s decision, children aged under 14 will not count in a ten-person limit affecting private and family events.
Perhaps toxicologist and emergency room doctor Gábor Zacher’s opinion on this year’s Christmas was the most radical. In an interview a few weeks ago he said that “we should forget this Christmas, in order to have Christmas next year. So that the story will not about mourning those who passed because we did not follow the rules.”
Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller was more restrained, but she also emphasized in the past weeks that she did not suggest people “to come together in very large numbers from different households” for Christmas.
János Szlávik, head of the department of the National Institute of Hematology and Infectious Diseases at the South Pest Central Hospital, also recommends families celebrate Christmas alone if possible. He told news site Telex that in his view, family members could visit each other while taking precautions (wearing a mask, keeping distance), but he did not recommend dining together.
Experts say that ventilation is also very important, so at least one window should be kept open to help air out rooms.
Even Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview last week that “We’ll be having a small Christmas this year,” encouraging people to cancel visits to their relatives in the interest of protecting each other’s health. “Perhaps there’ll be a chance for the usual large family celebrations at Easter,” he added.
Virologist Zsolt Boldogkői, head of the Institute of Medical Biology of the University of Szeged, drew attention to the same thing. In an interview, the expert highlighted that wearing a mask doesn’t help while we spend Christmas with our family, because even though masks are useful, unfortunately it has its own limits.
“If there are many people indoors and there is an infected person among us, then the protection of a mask is ineffective. In addition, we eat and drink, even wearing it can be problematic.”
So although the government made bigger family gatherings possible for Christmas Eve, people have every reason to be cautious and think about skipping this year’s family event or organizing only a small one with many precautionary measures.
Featured photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI