Budapest makes masks mandatory for shoppers and commuters
Lockdown in Hungary is extended until 3 May
- April 23, 2020 16:00
From next Monday, it will be mandatory to cover one’s face in Budapest's shops, stores, markets and taxis, Mayor Gergely Karácsony has announced on the city page.
The city council has decided earlier that from 27 April, it would be possible to travel on public transport routes only with a face covered with a mask, scarf or shawl. International experience with the Covid-19 pandemic shows that when staying indoors it is dangerous not to cover one’s face, reminded the mayor.
The decisions are driven by the goal of curbing the spread of the coronavirus infection, as Budapest is the largest hotspot in Hungary with 1113 confirmed cases (as of 22 April).
To stimulate compliance, Budapest public transport company BKK is distributing 60,000 face masks to passengers for free. The Hungarian Reformed Church Aid is joining the campaign and will hand out a further 30,000 masks, the transport provider has said.
Lockdown extended until 3 May
The Hungarian government announced today it is extending the lockdown until May 3, preparing for a gradual and controlled reopening of the economy. Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister’s office, said at his regular news briefing that it is too early to start easing restrictions on movement such as reopening schools, although some countries have done this.
Are face masks mandatory in Europe?
Since the Covid-19 outbreak began, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that only ill people and those who care for them wear masks. Later WHO backtracked on its advice, conceding that it had acted out of concern that stocks reserved for frontline medics may be depleted.
Some researchers warn that masks are not so effective and can give users a false sense of confidence. Proponents of the measure, however, insist that masks can prevent asymptomatic virus carries from spreading the disease.
One way or another, some European states have already made or have decided to make masks compulsory for public transport users and shoppers, including Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Starting next week, commuters throughout Germany and shoppers in nearly all German states will be obliged to wear masks.
Some countries, such as Spain, have started handing out masks to commuters. But non-EU member Switzerland, who is now relaxing its restrictions, confirmed that it would not press its citizens to wear masks in public.
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