Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that 3.5 million people have been vaccinated in Hungary, paving the way for outdoor venues to open from Saturday morning. The country, he said in a radio interview on Friday, will be opened up gradually.
Talking about Hungary’s easing restrictions, and probably in reference to Boris Johnson’s comments on Great Britain’s reopening and finally being able to drink some bear in a pub, Orbán said that
I’ve got a pint of beer waiting for me on my terrace tomorrow. I can hardly wait, because this has been a difficult year to get through, we’re all tired.”
Now, some regulations need to be adjusted, Orbán told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio. The night-time curfew will start at 11pm.
We had to change a few rules. Since terraces can be open until 9:30 in the evening, people won’t be home by 10. They’ll be in a good mood, and perhaps they might even like each other more, so they’ll need more time to get home.”
Orbán said the reopening of schools went smoother than expected earlier this week, with well above 50 percent of children returning to kindergartens and schools.
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Orbán said that by the middle of next week around four million shots will have been administered, and a wide range of services will be available for people with vaccine certificates.
Venues open to people with certificates will include theaters, cinemas, museums, dance and music venues, circuses, gyms, zoos, spas and swimming pools, sports venues and adventure parks, the prime minister said. It will also be possible to use the indoor areas of hotels and restaurants, he added.
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Orbán also said the number of deaths was not a political matter and he asked everyone to “show more respect” when talking about fatalities. The European Union offers an information website where the number of current deaths can be compared with the pre-Covid period. Hungary belongs to the better-performing countries, according to this website, he said. In Hungarian statistics, however, the number of people who died as a result of Covid is not separated from the number of people who died while having Covid, he added.
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Orbán said the efficacy of vaccines was still under debate, but experience suggested that after receiving the first shot, only around 1 percent of people fall ill. This means that this group can be considered to be essentially protected, he added. Vaccination continues to be vital, he said, adding that more than half of the adult population will be protected by the middle of next week. He said a new online surface is now available where it is possible to reserve a time for vaccination.
Meanwhile, a sufficient amount of Pfizer jabs will be allocated for 16-18 year-olds, Orbán said. Currently, 12-16 year-olds are not eligible to be vaccinated in Hungary, and further testing must be carried out for that age group, the Prime Minister added.
The prime minister said vaccines were bedeviled by business and geopolitical interests, and in Europe in particular, politics had overtaken humanitarian considerations.
The reason why we are now in a very good position with vaccinations is because nobody can tell Hungary what to do or what not to do. We are the ones making decisions, and we base them on solely one criterion, the national interest.”
The prime minister said anti-vaxxers had “a strong voice”, insisting that “the whole of the opposition” belongs among them. Yet, all vaccines are equally effective, he added.
A large volume of vaccines are scheduled to arrive in the upcoming days, so most probably everyone who has registered will have been vaccinated by mid-May, he said. Once that happens, vaccines will be offered to any Hungarian from any part of the world who travels to Hungary, Orbán added.
Commenting on the extension of the state of special legal order, he said the pandemic was not over yet and the country must maintain operability during parliament’s summer recess, with the government having to make all the requisite decisions.
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Meanwhile, the planned amendment to the 2021 budget and the 2022 budget are all about relaunching the economy, he said, noting the roll-out of a massive housing renovation scheme and the allocation of hundreds of billions of forints to businesses, among other government support measures.
Referring to talks in Brussels later on Friday, Orbán said financial issues were already settled, so he preferred to focus on issues connected with the future of the European Union. Topics for discussion include how the bloc should prepare for a similar pandemic, lessons learned, and how relations with the new US administration are developing, he said.
The prime minister also paid tribute to Hungary’s police, saying that those who keep order “defend our freedom” in a democracy. Order, he said, had been maintained, “and this is thanks to the police”.
Featured photo via Viktor Orbán’s Facebook page