Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced several new measures against the coronavirus epidemic on Tuesday, including the reintroduction of an extraordinary legal order, nighttime curfew, stricter rules on facemask usage and free parking. In their reactions, opposition parties slammed the prime minister for the „too little, too late” measures.
The nationalist Jobbik party said Orbán’s announcement was a confession that the government was incapable of managing the epidemic.
“The virus is still the one setting the pace,” Jobbik said in a statement. They said it was “downright alarming” that hospitals were expected to reach the limits of their capacities by mid-December “even though the so-called second wave came as a surprise to no one”.
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The party said the new round of restrictions indicated that Hungary’s health-care and social institutions had not been adequately prepared to defend against the epidemic.
The opposition Socialists (MSZP) said the measures announced by the prime minister did not go far enough. Bertalan Tóth, the co-leader of the Socialist party, said on Facebook that
What the prime minister announced is nothing but a balloon. Seemingly large, but empty inside”
“Free parking will not reduce the number of fatalities and the curfew will not reduce infections,”. He said that instead of imposing fines the government should be focused on saving lives and aiding those who have run out of savings.
He also called for mass coronavirus testing and for those in quarantine to be guaranteed full salaries during sick leave. “Those who receive 60 percent of their salary on sick leave will rather downplay their symptoms and not go see a doctor,” Tóth said.
Ferenc Gyurcsány, the leader of opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said that based on the announcement, „the prime minister doesn’t seem to know what’s going on in this country.”
Gyurcsány emphasized that
It’s complete nonsense that he [Orbán] doesn’t have anything to say about schools, teachers, students, doctors and nurses, and most importantly about, free mass testing. Just as he doesn’t have anything to say about lost jobs or failing businesses.”
The former PM thinks that the government is doing nothing, „neither making any new effort, nor mobilizing new resources.”
The opposition LMP party supports the government’s introduction of a “special legal order”, but calls for “much stricter measures” than the ones the prime minister announced on Tuesday evening, LMP co-leader Erzsébet Schmuck said on Facebook.
Schmuck called Viktor Orbán’s Tuesday address “weak and disappointing”, with his announcements “made too late”. She said her party supported the introduction of a special legal order because fast action is needed, but insisted that the government had “regrettably failed to make rapid responses”.
“We need much stricter measures to avoid an even greater crisis, but the government is hesitating,” Schmuck said. The epidemic found the government unprepared, and the government is yet to take measures to help those that lose their jobs, “who fight on the frontline of the virus”, pensioners, and parents with young children. Moreover, the government “is keeping teachers, parents and schoolchildren in a state of uncertainty”, she said.
Tímea Szabó, leader of Párbeszéd party claims that the announced measures are not real actions against the virus, as they do not protect the life and livelihood of the Hungarian people, but „bullies” opposition-led cities, taking their revenues once again.
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On social media, the opposition politician noted that tightened rules on the usage of face masks, nighttime curfew restrictions, and the “free parking that puts municipalities in a difficult position, creates chaos and is harmful to the environment” will not solve the situation and will not prevent the “collapse of health care, the depletion of capacities”.
“It’s unbelievable that the most important thing for Orbán is still to hold football matches for 20,000 people, while hundreds of doctors and nurses are already dropping out of the[healthcare] system, complete hospital wards are closing due to the outbreak,” Szabó wrote.
„This is not crisis management but alibi governance”, opposition party Momentum wrote in a Facebook post.
While the entire population has been tested in Slovakia, and the state has taken over the labor cost of businesses in trouble in Austria, we are defending ourselves against the epidemic and its economic effects with free parking, an extraordinary legal order and football matches”
“Now that the democratic obstacles to the government have been removed again and the extraordinary legal order is on its way, the management of the epidemic situation could finally begin. The testing of those working in vulnerable jobs, like teachers, healthcare workers, the rescuing of businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, the helping of families who have lost their jobs,” Momentum noted.
Ruling Fidesz welcomed the prime minister’s announcement, saying that Hungary needed firm and timely measures to handle the second wave of the epidemic.
“This is what the special legal order, meaning the declaration of a state of emergency is for,” the party said in a statement, noting that such a measure had already succeeded during the first wave. Fidesz added, at the same time, that it was also crucial that Hungary was able to function.
The party said it expected the left-wing opposition to support the reintroduction of the special legal order in parliament.
In the featured photo illustration: MSZP co-leader Bertalan Tóth. Photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI