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Hungary passes 5 million vaccination threshold

Hungary passes 5 million vaccination threshold

Mask-wearing mandate, night-time curfew, outdoor sports ban, free parking come to an end

Many Covid-related restrictions are being lifted across Hungary as the country has reached the prerequisite of 5 million people getting at least one dose of the vaccine, reports MTI.    

“We can say goodbye to our masks,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Saturday in a video message posted on Facebook. He said that vaccines have proved to be the key to bringing back “our normal, healthy, happy lives”, thanked everyone who had received the jab and urged those who were having second thoughts to jump on board.

Music and dance events accessible only with vaccination certificates

Apart from the obligatory mask-wearing in public places, Orban told Kossuth Radio on Friday that a number of other outstanding restrictions will be lifted once the coveted vaccination threshold is reached. These include the night-time curfew, the mandatory closing time of restaurants and shops, and the ban on outdoor individual and team sports.

Regarding events, the picture is less clear-cut. According to Orban, up to 500 people can attend outdoor events, including meetings. Up to 200 people can attend weddings, while attendance of private and family events is capped at 50 people. Hotel and restaurant managers must ensure that guests are separated, the Prime Minister said.

Only people with vaccination certificates can attend music and dance events, while vaccinated 16-18 year-olds can take part in cultural and sports events indoors, he added.

Operative board disbanded

In his weekly radio interview Orban, as quoted by Hungary Today, announced that the national operative board which oversees the response to the pandemic would no longer be active from Friday. Nevertheless, the government will maintain readiness to respond to future outbreaks as 3 million Hungarian adults are still not vaccinated. Moreover, vigilance is needed to ensure that vaccines used in Hungary also protect against new variants, the Prime Minister added.

The vaccine breakdown is as follows: apart from the already administered vaccines, 7.3 million vaccines are in stock or on order from Pfizer, 1.2 million from Moderna, 4 million from Janssen and 4.7 million from Astra-Zeneca. These quantities (without including Chinese and Russian vaccines), would be enough to vaccinate all Hungarians in 2021 and 2022, even with a possible third or even fourth dose, Orban added.

But even so, in order to ensure self-sufficiency in the long term, a plant now under construction in Debrecen will ensure the production of a Hungarian vaccine in the second half of 2022. With domestic production “we can guarantee the safety of all Hungarians for decades,” Orban said.

Given further vaccination progress, the Prime Minister speculated that the special legal order which gives the government extraordinary powers to rule by decree without prior parliamentary approval would be lifted during this summer.

No more free parking

Due to the declining case numbers and fast vaccination programme rollout, the country-wide free parking is no longer available from Monday. Free parking was introduced in April 2020 during the first wave of Covid-19 to prevent people congesting in public transport. The measure was terminated in July but reintroduced in November together with the curfew and other restrictions as the second wave of the pandemic hit.

Free parking, however, has come at a high financial and environmental price. Local governments, including many Fidesz-controlled administrations have complained that it deprives them of much-needed revenue, while increasing air-pollution and creating a parking space crisis.

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