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Budapest Restart strategy is ready

Mayor Gergely Karácsony offers 7 + 1 steps for the responsible reopening of Hungary’s capital

  • May 15, 2020 13:00
  • Author TheMayor.EU
Medium budapest cityscape

The gradual reopening of Budapest requires new thinking and judicious decisions on the part of the central government and the city leadership. With this introduction Mayor Gergely Karácsony has presented his proposals for reviving life in Hungary’s capital in the second phase of the country’s response to the corona pandemic.

7 + 1 step approach

The Budapest Restart strategy is based on the following 7 + 1 steps, outlined on the city website:

  • Involvement of local governments, clear and unambiguous information. Municipalities and citizens have a right to know what kind of information and analysis the government uses to alleviate or retain the restrictive measures. In general, regulations are followed by people when they are clear and understandable.
  • Disclosure of mass testing data. The government must provide regular information about the number of PCR tests carried out in the territory of Budapest, the share of positive tests, with age group breakdown and circumstances necessitating the test (respiratory symptoms, contact person etc.).
  • New rules in the health and social care system. Ensuring hospital capacity is an important condition for the partial lifting of restrictions. But the government’s decision to free up a large number of hospital beds has deprived thousands of sick people of hospital care, passing on the burden to their families and the social welfare system of municipalities.
  • Social distancing in the reviving city. The unwanted transport congestion during rush hours necessitates the introduction of flexible working schedule. Small group education, outdoor teaching, or even morning-afternoon curriculum should be given consideration.
  • Safe hospitality, functioning service industry. The rules for reopening catering establishments discriminate businesses without a terrace or garden permit. Therefore, the city administration of Budapest, following the example of the Lithuanian capital, considers temporarily closing smaller road sections in front of restaurants so that tables can be placed safely on the outside.
  • Facial masking rules. The compulsory face mask regulations for public transport should be extended to commercial outlets with restaurant staff mandated to wear masks.
  • Reorganized transport. Increased car use steps up air pollution, potentially aggravating the course of coronavirus infection. This requires the creation of new bike lanes and pedestrian zones. The government must urgently deliver on its promise to allocate HUF 3.2 billion for the purchase of new buses for the capital.

Tackling environmental and social problems

  • +1 Budapest New Deal. Although nearly 40 percent of GDP is produced in Budapest, 97 percent is deducted by the state, unlike most major European cities. The capital is growing and must perform increasing tasks from declining revenues. Budapest must, therefore, be given the financial means to tackle problems that pounded on its door even before the coronavirus, such as climate change and housing poverty.

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