The Orbán government began issuing coronavirus vaccination certificates in early March to those who had already received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine or had contracted the disease and could prove it in some way. As the vaccination rate hit another milestone in Hungary yesterday, surpassing 3 million people, the amount of those with vaccination cards is also rapidly growing. There is only one problem: they are pretty much useless at the moment and we can only guess what benefits they will provide exactly in the future.
A strange story surfaced on social media according to travel site Okosutas.hu. A Hungarian passenger encountered a problem when he wanted to return to Hungary from his trip abroad. He was traveling to an Eastern European country (most likely to Poland) with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine already administered and his newly acquired immunity certificate. Getting to the foreign country wasn’t the problem- he was able to enter without any hassle, however, when returning, the Hungarian authorities didn’t accept his official card and asked him to either present two negative PCR tests or go into quarantine.
Later, an official from the central coronavirus board confirmed that only those with two negative PCR tests are not required to quarantine themselves, adding that having a vaccination card does not entitle anyone to be exempt from this requirement either.
ATV News sent some questions to the Interior Ministry regarding the possible future implications of the certificates, however, they received a rather vague answer.
“Your question about the usability of the card is premature,” the ministry wrote.
Although the details are unknown, Viktor Orbán has spoken about the certificates several times, which could somewhat outline how the government envisions its practical use.
The PM believes 4 million people will already be vaccinated by early May. This is when vaccination cards could start playing a role.
“And then I think that these certificates will enable people to once again stay in hotels, go to concerts, cinemas, and sports events. At present, I’d wait longer for that, but I think that we’re close to the point at which there will once more be social and communal events, attended by those who have vaccination certificates,” he said in an interview last week.
Orbán also talked about this year’s European Football Championship which also involves Hungary, since some of the matches are scheduled to start on June 15th in Budapest.
“By that time, everyone who has registered will definitely have received the vaccine, and will have the opportunity to use the vaccination certificates, enabling people to attend the event.”
Gergely Gulyás, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, also revealed some important information at his regular press briefing on Thursday: the government will decide about the details regarding the certificates once 3.5 million people have been inoculated in Hungary, which is expected to be completed by the middle of the next week.
Featured photo by Attila Balázs/MTI