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Hungary says goodbye to the masks (for now)

Hungary says goodbye to the masks (for now)

The threshold of 5,5 million vaccinees is expected to be reached this afternoon

The number of people vaccinated against Covid-19 is expected to reach the 5,5 million threshold today, allowing for a further easing of restrictions,  Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced in his regular Friday interview on Kossuth Radio Good Morning, Hungary! He cited the latest statistical data, which reports no Covid-related fatalities for a second day in a row, 76 hospitalizations and 22 people on ventilators.

According to Orbán, the spectre of a fourth coronavirus wave hitting in September-October has become the talk of the town, but those who have got the jab stand a good chance to avoid infection or survive the disease with much milder symptoms. The prime minister added that Hungary’s healthcare system is ready to cope with the fourth wave.

Which curbs will be scrapped

Passing the vaccination threshold means that the following restrictions, as listed by hirado.hu, will be lifted from tomorrow, as stipulated in last week’s government decision:

  • No masks will have to be worn indoors or outdoors in public places, including shops and public transport, with the exception of hospitals and social institutions. However, no one should be prohibited from using a mask;
  • Admission to restaurants, accommodation, leisure facilities and cultural events and performances with a pre-arranged auditorium will be possible even without an immunity certificate;
  • Restrictions on shops will be lifted (10 sqm per customer and distancing rule);
  • For family events and private events, the current limit of 50 people will increase to 100 people. In the case of weddings, the cap of 200 people will increase to 400 people;
  • Restrictions on sports events, music and dance events and other indoor or outdoor events for more than 500 people will not be relaxed. The current rules will remain in place, including caps on attendance and entry only with immunity certificate. Under-18s can only attend these events with a security certificate or under the supervision of a protected person;
  • Universities and colleges may also prepare to go back to in-person education.

Touching upon the pandemic impact on the economy, Orbán said that remote working will be expanded, with job-creating investments in 17 cities and a three-year wage agreement for state-owned companies.

To curb price increases, the government will levy a special tax on the extra profit of companies who sell above a certain price level, he added. In the case of a mine, the concession won must be started within one year, otherwise it will be lost.

LGBT law controversy

In the interview, Orbán also mentioned what he called the EU’s “coordinated attack” against Hungary’s LGBT law. The prime minister said the attack is “in the same mould as previous attacks connected to migration, the tax on banks, cuts to utility fees and extra taxes on multinational companies … but we have become used to it.”

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