The third wave of the coronavirus is rampaging through Hungary, yet hotels and wellness spas are already planning their reopening within the coming weeks. The head of the Hungarian Hotel and Restaurant Association (MSZÉSZ) has even said that hotels could begin accepting vaccinated visitors any day now.
Saliris Resort is planning an April reopening, inviting guests to meet public influencers such as singer Ádám Szabó and various Dancing with the Stars performers for what they advertise as a weekend wellness party, reports liberal 444.hu.
In response to a Facebook question of the hotel’s advertised reopening, Saliris Resort responded that “as long as the emergency restrictions are not extended, we will hold the event in accordance with current rules, but if the pandemic situation does not allow it, we will reschedule to a later date.”
The resort belongs to Hunguest Hotels, owned by Hungary’s richest person Lőrinc Mészáros, a well known friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Given his ties to the government, many speculate that Mészáros might know something about plans for continued restrictions and would not advertise such a reopening in vain. Still, current evidence does not point to a situation where large parties could be organized at hotels in April.
Even President János Áder stated that he hopes the speed of vaccinations will increase by the end of April at the latest, allowing for a May reopening in Hungary.
Hotel Association President Says Hotels Might Receive Vaccinated Visitors
The Hungarian Hotel and Restaurant Association (MSZÉSZ) wishes to reach the point where those who are protected from the virus may attend to restaurants and hotels, Tamás Flesch, president of the association, said on Friday.
Flesch says it would be great if the government would begin considering options for a step-by-step reopening, since “it is noticeable that Hungarians have already begun making reservations in domestic hotels for Easter, April, and later dates.”
The MSZÉSZ president assumes that much of Hungary’s reopening procedures will depend on how many employees businesses kept on their payroll. Flesch assumes that for businesses which kept a large portion of their employees as the government requested, reopening could take place within two weeks.
He has little doubt that hotels will soon be reopened. While they cannot expect visitors from abroad, he says, those in the country could begin working if they serve visitors who have an immunity to the virus.
Hungary’s Thermal Baths Are Preparing for a Reopening Too
Not only hotels, but thermal baths are planning for a step by step reopening within the coming weeks.
Budapest Spas vaccinated 200 of its employees on February 19, in order to facilitate the reopening the so called healing units of their thermal baths starting March 16.
They were allowed to vaccinate their employees technically they technically fit into the category of healthcare workers.
The organization is planning to minimize the potential for infections by making it necessary for visitors to make reservations, disinfecting facilities regularly, and following the Austrian example of testing each visitor for the virus.
National Consultation and Expert Opinion Are the Real Determinants
The government initiated Hungary’s national consultation on reopening last week, containing two questions, which can be filled out on vakcinainfo.gov.
Already more than 200 thousand people have responded to the survey, regarding possible scenarios for lifting pandemic restrictions, whether restrictions should be lifted gradually or in a single go, and whether restrictions should be eased for people with an immunity to the virus.
Prime Minister Orbán posted a Facebook video stating that everyone’s opinion matters in determining how restrictions will be lifted. However, the actual date of when such procedures will begin, he said, depends on the decisions of pandemic experts.
Head of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás said last Thursday that the decision of how reopening will occur must be made by March first.
According to the minister, to fight off the UK variant of the coronavirus which recently arrived in Hungary, the country needs to import as many vaccines as possible and ensure that everyone is protected. Only then can a nationwide lifting of restrictions occur.
Regardless of whether hotels and thermal baths are advertising that they will soon be accepting guests, it seems that reopening in Hungary will not occur until coronavirus experts give it the green light. Given the fact that the third wave was just recently announced, it would not make sense to lift restrictions within the coming weeks.
Featured photo illustration by Tamás Kovács/MTI