The first step of reopening commenced the same day as Hungary handed in plans for the football European Championship, leading some to the supposition that this couldn’t be a mere coincidence. The government, however, denied any connection between the two.
Faithful to earlier promises and contradictory to several expert opinions, just as the number of vaccinated people reached 2.5 million, Hungary began reopening. April 7th was however, also the deadline by which date host associations had been asked to submit plans to accept fans for the football event.
Earlier, UEFA made it clear that only those cities that can guarantee admission to a certain number of spectators into the stadium could host at all.
On Wednesday, some on the opposition accused the government with deliberate timing- or at least that the upcoming large-scale football event played a large part when weighing the arguments. They additionally found it suspicious that schools are planned to be reopened on the day of UEFA’s final decision, April 19th, despite the fact that epidemiologists say this also involves huge risks.
In his reaction made at his regular press briefing on Thursday, the PMO chief of staff labeled the presumption a “joke” and denied any coincidence. According to Gergely Gulyás, the question doesn’t make any sense also because by June “we can already leave the epidemic behind” as there would be enough vaccines available for more than 7 million people.
At the upcoming European Championships, Budapest’s newly-built and super-expensive Puskás Aréna will host four games and the Hungarian national team will have the chance to play two fixtures in front of home supporters. While Orbán’s excessive love of football and the government’s generous football support system is regularly criticized, the fact that back in November the government had geared up on restrictions just three days before the deciding play-off final against Iceland (that could otherwise have been followed by 20,000 on the spot), somewhat perhaps also weakens critical positions on this question.
In the featured photo: PMO Head Gergely Gulyás. Photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI