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Hungary reaches 3.5 million vaccinees, reopens restaurant and bar terraces

Hungary reaches 3.5 million vaccinees, reopens restaurant and bar terraces

People with vaccination certificates will have access to a wide range of services from next week

The number of Hungarians vaccinated against Covid-19 reached the 3.5 million mark today, so, according to the government plan, restaurant and bar terraces may reopen tomorrow, Saturday. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán confirmed this in his regular Friday interview with public broadcaster Kossuth Radio.

Similarly to shops, outdoor spaces of catering establishments will stay open until 9.30pm, while the night-time curfew will begin an hour later - at 11pm.

Vaccinated-only venues

Orbán went on to say that by the middle of next week, around four million shots will have been administered across Hungary, and a wide range of services will be available only for people with vaccination certificates. Immunity certificate holders can visit theatres, dance and music venues, circuses, zoos, adventure parks, spas, swimming pools, gyms, sporting events, as well as the indoor areas of hotels and restaurants.

“We are restarting the country step by step, and for the government to be able to act, we want to extend the government’s emergency mandate,” said the Prime Minister, quoted by MTI. He was referring to the State of Emergency legislation which allows the government to rule by decree without asking for parliamentary approval. 

Orbán cited Zoltán Maruzsa, Secretary of State for Public Education, who claimed that the reopening of schools was going much smoother than expected. According to him, 50 percent of Hungarian children are now back to school or kindergarten and parents can stay assured that their child is safe, as most of the teachers have already received the vaccine.

Viktor Orbán encouraged everyone to register for a vaccine shot and accept what was on offer, as half of the population could already enjoy the benefits of vaccination next week. He underscored the importance of “over-shouting the antivaxxers”, attaching this label to his political opponents.

Hospital situation improving

Hospital admission rates for Covid-19 and the number of patients on ventilators in Hungary have fallen from April peaks, apparently due to the country’s rapid vaccine rollout. Hungary has been criticised for opting to use Russian and Chinese vaccines before they received EMA approval, but Orbán insisted that the numbers vindicated him. “I don’t care if a cat is black or white, I just want it to catch mice”, he said metaphorically.

Gergely Gulyás, head of the Prime Minister’s office, revealed yesterday that next week one million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine will arrive, as well as 200,000 first doses of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine. Over 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are also expected next week. This will allow Hungarians younger than 18 to be inoculated soon, as well as compatriots living in foreign countries, Orbán said.

So far, some 4.4 million Hungarians have registered to get the jab. Hungary will need some 6 million people to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

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