Following a briefing by the government’s Coronavirus Task Force earlier today, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Facebook tougher restrictions aimed at containing the second wave of coronavirus.
With 5 162 new cases and 55 deaths recorded over the last 24 hours, the pandemic surge is putting a strain on the country’s healthcare system, despite Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller’s assertion that no more than 60 percent of available hospital beds are currently in use.
Putting the break on activities
On Tuesday, Parliament is expected to grant the government extraordinary powers to impose emergency measures single-handedly for 90 days. As reported by MTI, the new restrictions, which will be introduced from midnight, Wednesday, include:
- Extension of the curfew – from 8 pm to 5 am – for all except shift workers and emergency cases.
- Restaurants (save for home delivery), gyms, and sports facilities will be closed. Company canteens will stay open. Shops and hairdressers, and other small services will close at 7 pm. Hotels may only accommodate business guests, not tourists.
- A general ban on events will take effect. Up to ten people can take part in family gatherings and private events. Weddings may only be held without wedding guests, attended by just the bride and groom, witnesses, parents, and siblings. Up to fifty people may attend funerals.
- Sports matches, including the Hungarian football team’s European Championship qualifiers, will be held without an audience. Outdoor professional sporting activities may go on, but amateur sports are put on hold.
- Universities and high schools will switch to distance learning, while educational institutions for children under 14 years of age will remain open.
- Hospital, school, kindergarten and nursery staff will be tested for the coronavirus on a weekly basis.
The listed restrictions will be introduced for a period of 30 days, but may be extended if necessary.
On the proposal of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the state will reimburse hotels for 80 percent of the bookings made before 8 November. The government commits to paying half of the wages of all employees of restaurants and leisure facilities for the next 30 days, and employers will be absolved from paying compensations.