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Preparing for the video address, Source: Viktor Orbán on Facebook

After 2.5 million vaccinees: Hungary reopens shops and services

After 2.5 million vaccinees: Hungary reopens shops and services

Schools are next in line, but restaurants and hotels remain closed

Hungary has reached the milestone of 2.5 million vaccinees, which, according to the government’s restart plan, means that the phasing out of Covid-19 restrictions can begin.

Changes at a glance

So, the following rules have come into force as of 7 April:

  • The curfew is scaled down to last from 10 pm to 5 am.
  • Shops stay open longer, until 9.30 pm.
  • Stores, including those that have been closed since 8 March, may reopen under new square metre-based rules, with one customer per 10 square metres of shop space.
  • The temporary protection measures for a number of services are lifted, allowing hairdressers, beauty salons and other providers to reopen.
  • However, catering establishments are still not allowed to open on-site service. Employees can stay on the premises, but extraneous persons may enter only for the purpose of dispensing and transporting takeaways.
  • Hotels still cannot accept guests.
  • Following the vaccination of teachers, schools and kindergartens will resume in-person education on 19 April. 

Vaccine touted as the only weapon

“We have been living our lives in conditions reminiscent of wartime for a year, with restrictions, curfews and personal losses. The virus is waging a war against us, and our only weapon that promises victory is the vaccine,” stressed Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a Facebook video address, quoted by hirado.hu, urging Hungarians to register at vakcinainfo.gov.hu website and take the jab.

Dissenting voices

The Covid-19 operative body informed yesterday that 3.9 million Hungarians had already registered for the vaccine while 1.6 million of them were still waiting to get their first shot. On the other hand, according to many experts, this 25 percent of vaccinees is very far from the desired 70-80 percent needed to achieve herd immunity.

The return of schools and kindergartens on 19 April will kick-start the second phase of reopening. Several organisations and experts, however, have called on the government to reverse the restrictions rollback, reports Daily News Hungary. The epidemic curve may have reached a plateau, but the number of deaths (22 409 since the start of the pandemic) and patients who are treated in hospitals remains very high. In a similar scenario, Poland has decided to postpone the reopening, yet Orbán is adamant.

The Prime Minister has found an ally in Zoltán Lomnici Jr., a constitutional lawyer, who told Kossuth Radio that, given the Israeli example, the schedule set out in the government decree can be adhered to. He stressed that while in Hungary the vaccination rate is 24.19 percent, in Spain and Luxembourg, for example, this figure is 12 percent, which is below the EU average.

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