The number of people vaccinated in Hungary is expected to reach 2.5 million by Wednesday at the latest. Previously Viktor Orbán designated this number as the requirement for the automatic start of Hungary’s gradual reopening. The first measures among other things will shorten the curfew and allow shops and services to reopen.
On the 27th of March, the government issued a decree on the conditions for starting the first stage of a multi-phase reopening in Hungary. Instead of a specific date, it tied the first steps of easing coronavirus restrictions to 2.5 million “inoculated people.” (However, the government counts every citizen with at least one jab “inoculated” instead of the two doses needed for full protection).
As Hungary is among the European countries most severely affected by the pandemic, Hungarian experts find the given number insufficient in stopping the spread of the virus, with a vaccination rate of 70-80% to be required to achieve herd immunity.
In a recent interview János Szlávik, chief infectologist at the South Pest Central Hospital, told public television M1 that the vaccination of 2.5 million people is expected to be enough to somewhat change the course of the coronavirus epidemic. But he also stressed, “in order to sit back, we need to inoculate many, many more.”
Nonetheless, the government decided to stick with the condition. According to Viktor Orbán’s interview with state media last Wednesday, the government drew the line here, because based on previous estimates all registered people over the age of 65 (i.e. those most endangered) will be vaccinated in Hungary by this time.
“The number of 2.5 million has been designated for us by moral law, because the country must not be relaunched until those most at risk of dying have been vaccinated: until they’ve been removed from a situation in which their lives are in immediate danger. This means people over the age of 65.”
Requirement to be reached by Wednesday at the latest
The number of people vaccinated in Hungary is expected to reach 2.5 million by midnight on Tuesday or Wednesday morning at the latest, the government information center (KTK) announced on Monday.
Then, Interior Minister, Sándor Pintér, must establish that the 2.5 million mark has been reached in a resolution, after which time government decree number 144 will come into force.
As a result, the following measures will take effect:
- The nighttime curfew will be shortened by two hours from 10:00 pm until 5:00 am.
- Business hours will be extended between 5:00 in the morning and 9:30 at night.
- Businesses that were shuttered from March 8th will be allowed to reopen including hairdressers, cosmetologists, and other providers with the stipulation of the number of customers limited to one for every ten square meters.
- Dining in at restaurants and recreational stays at hotels are still banned.
According to the decree, these measures will enter into force the following day after 2.5 million people received the first jab.
As perhaps the second stage of Hungary’s reopening, schools and kindergartens will re-open on April 19th, after educators and staff have been inoculated, a decision similarly controversial as the 2.5 million requirement.
Featured photo by Tibor Rosta/MTI