As Hungary strives for a balance between protecting lives and keep the country’s economy going, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced a series of new restrictive measures, extending compulsory mask wearing to most public places and putting a price cap on coronavirus tests.
“Epidemiologists believe that the second wave will peak sometime around December-January,” Orbán said in a video posted on Facebook. “Until then, we must constantly defend ourselves. We have a war plan on how to protect the elderly, how to cure the sick and at the same time how to keep the country up and running.”
“I would like to reassure everyone that we have prepared the healthcare system, including the equipment required to defend ourselves, hospital beds, ventilators and the doctors and nurses who can operate them are available in sufficient numbers, and if necessary, we can double and triple the more than 10,000 beds available today. And based on a reassignment plan, we can also send doctors and nurses to where it is necessary,” Orbán said.
Both the existing and new measures announced by Orbán are the following:
- In addition to face mask duties in public transport and shops, face masks will be compulsory in cinemas, theaters, healthcare, and social institutions as well as customer service offices.
- Existing border restrictions remain in place.
- Full visitation ban in hospitals and homes for the elderly.
- Daily temperature check of teachers and pupils entering school premises.
- Price of coronavirus tests will be capped at 19,500 forints (€54).
- Entertainment venues must close at 11:00 p.m.
Police will also actively enforce the new measures.
According to the latest national data, Hungary, with a population of just under 10 million currently has 9,653 active coronavirus cases, of which 4,100 are in the capital, Budapest.
In neighboring Romania to the east — facing a similarly severe second wave — President Klaus Iohannis warned that with the onset of the autumn flu season “we cannot have the healthcare system handle two epidemics at the same time”.
Title image: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announcing the new coronavirus restrictions on September 16, 2020. (capture from Facebook video)