On Monday afternoon, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that the government will uphold the curfew and other restrictions introduced in November that would have expired on 11 December.
According to the PM's video message, the measures introduced in November will remain in effect until 11 January, and the government will decide on 21 December whether or not they will ease them for Christmas eve. What is already certain is that New Year's Eve will not be an exception, as the Prime Minister put it:
"A good party is not worth risking all that we have worked for in the past months."
Orbán said that the only solution is a vaccine, which is already in sight, and the government is putting aside politics in order for Hungary to be among the first countries to get the vaccine, no matter the source.
Last Friday, during his interview on state radio Kossuth, Orbán said that the vaccination programme will take place at 13 000 locations all over the country, and Hungary has preordered more than 12 million doses of the vaccine from European and US suppliers as part of the EU's joint vaccination scheme. Hungary is also in talks about vaccines with Russia, China, and Israel, and as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has stated several times since 5 November, Hungary will be receiving a small batch of the Russian vaccine Sputnik-V for medical approval procedures and will send scientists to Russian vaccine development centres to oversee the process.
After having reintroduced the special legal order in Hungary, the Hungarian government implemented the toughest restictions so far on 9 November in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. You can find the details of the extraordinary measures in our earlier article here, but here are the main points in a nutshell:
- A curfew between 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM. “Everyone must be home by eight,” the PM said, except for emergencies, work, or commuting to and from work.
- A general ban on gatherings.
- Restaurants must close (except workplace cafeterias), only deliveries allowed. Gyms, indoor pools, museums, theatres, zoos, and other indoor recreational spaces must be closed as well.
- Shops, hairdressers, other services must be closed by 7:00 PM.
- Hotels can only host guests who travel for business purposes.
- A general ban on public events; family and private events cannot be attended by more than 10 people.
- Weddings are allowed, but only with people who must “necessarily be there”: the couple, their parents, the witnesses, and the registrars/priest.
- At most, 50 mourners are allowed to attend funerals.
- Sports events must be held behind closed doors.
- Recreational and amateur team sports are banned. Individual sports are allowed outdoors.
During his announcement back in November, the Prime Minister said that these measures are necessary as the number of infections was steadily rising all over Europe and in Hungary as well. This turned out to be right: last week, Hungary registered more coronavirus-related deaths than ever before (1196), and the number of total confirmed cases has surpassed 250 000 over the weekend, with 173 881 active cases as of Monday morning.