After successfully seeing the country through the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the Hungarian government is now striking a careful balance between keeping infection rates in check and keeping the economy functional, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his regular weekly interview on national channel Kossuth Rádió.
Speaking about the results of the recently finished national consultation, in which almost 2 million Hungarians replied by mail or online to a government questionnaire on how to handle the coronavirus pandemic, Orbán said that the majority of the people want to keep the country running.
“Hungary must remain functioning, we cannot allow the virus to paralyze the country,” Orbán said. “Naturally, we want to protect the lives of our parents and grandparents, but the aim is to preserve the functionality of the country. So, the battle plan is to keep the country functioning while also protecting the elderly.”
As many other European countries, Hungary is currently experiencing the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with daily new cases several times higher than during the first wave. The number of active cases stands at 5,571, with almost half of the fresh cases in the capital of Budapest and the surrounding Pest county.
Orbán also said that with the new school year underway, some affected classes or schools could be isolated, but there will be no “general closure”.
Hungary currently has a ban on visits to hospitals and homes for the elderly, with a recent coronavirus hotspot discovered in two facilities of a Budapest home for the elderly. Face masks are also mandatory on public transport and in shops, but Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller said that since 15 percent of public transport passengers disobey the rule, fines are now being imposed and Orbán also said that the rules will be enforced.
“I would like to reassure everyone that this situation will not last forever, but until then, I have asked the minister of interior to enforce the rules during the pandemic,” Orbán said.
Referring to a partial lockdown of the country instated on Sept. 1 and criticized by the European Union, Orbán said that Hungary will stick to it and others will likely follow.
“We must not be scared that Brussels reacted nervously to the Hungarian lockdown, they will eventually realize that it was an appropriate measure, and they will follow, just as they did with our measures related to illegal immigration,” Orbán said, adding that Europe should follow the example of the Hungarian national consultation and have a similar EU-wide one.
Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the Kossuth Rádió studio. (miniszterelnokseg.hu)