Coronavirus: Hungary adopts new measures to prop up economy

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As the number of coronavirus cases in Hungary rose to 187 from 167 a day before, the government approved a second set of measures aimed at mitigating the effects of the pandemic on the national economy.

These measures include tax breaks for self-employed businesses for a broad range of services, from healthcare and social assistance to catering and hospitality, with the full list enumerating 26 specific types of services. These measures will be in effect until the quarter following the end of the virus outbreak

Maternity and childcare benefits expiring during the emergency rule will also be extended until the same deadline.

The government is also extending a tax break previously only available for tourism and hospitality services to media outlets on account of these sectors losing a significant part of their advertising revenues.

Self-employed business will receive an extension on their tax arrears and all evictions and tax-arrears seizures will be suspended for the duration of the emergency rule.

In a live broadcast after the Monday meeting of the coronavirus operations group, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the country was “fighting a war on four fronts”: military, law enforcement, healthcare and economic.

He also said the country is seeking medical equipment such as face masks, rubber gloves and full protective gear from the East as none of this equipment is available from the West. At the same time, Hungary is ramping up domestic production of face masks with up to 80,000 manufactured per day.

Hungary already passed one economic package aimed at saving the national economy and more measures are expected over the coming days and weeks.

Despite having its own troubles, Hungary was also the first country to respond to the aid request of its southern neighbour Croatia, which was hit by a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in the early hours of Sunday, with the epicenter 9 kilometers from the capital Zagreb.

Hungary is sending 200 beds and blankets to help those who were evacuated from their homes, announced State Minister Tristan Azbej, who heads the Hungary Helps program.

Title image: Airport workers unload a cargo of 30,000 protective suits and 82,000 surgical face masks from Shanghai, China on March 23 at the Budapest Airport. (MTI/Zsolt Szigetvári)

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