Mar 16, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán: Hungary has introduced new measures to slow down the spread of the coronavirus

Speaking in Parliament this morning, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stressed the reasoning behind the government’s decision to declare a “state of emergency” at the end of last week.

“There is an emergency situation, and we are facing an unknown enemy," he said.

It is a challenge for all of humanity to face an unknown virus, and there is no global solution to this epidemic, he said. Each country has to develop its own solutions, and although many people are working on developing an antidote, there is no vaccine against the virus.

“Unity and discipline are of the utmost importance at such a difficult time,” said Orbán. He stated that in the next period, we will enter a time of coronavirus hot zones, and the only chance we have to combat the virus is to reduce its spread. The number of contacts people make with others thus has to be reduced, and several measures have been introduced by the government to support this, including travel bans and the announcement of “the state of emergency.”

Events have been banned, and university and public education institutions are banned from holding courses and being visited. A hospital is being built from intermodal containers to care for the ill.

The Prime Minister announced that the latest measures of the Operational Group include the closing of Hungary's borders to passenger traffic. Beginning on Monday at midnight, only Hungarian citizens can enter the country. Sporting events may take place behind closed doors if organizers are willing to hold them, but it is not recommended. Clubs and cinemas are closed. Restaurants and cafes can only be open until 3:00 p.m. Grocery stores, drugstores and pharmacies are an exception and may remain open per their normal business hours.

According to the official government decree, published on Monday, violation of the measures constitutes a punishable offense with fines up to HUF 500 thousand; and monitoring of compliance will be the responsibility of the police. Regarding shop closures, the restriction does not affect the business of service providers. Furthermore, the Ministry for Human Capacities will be reviewing records for those who have received full-time health training, so if necessary, they can be recruited to help with health emergencies.

“We recommend that everyone postpone appointments outside of family events. The elderly should be extremely careful. Don't leave your apartment,” PM Orbán advised, adding that care for the elderly must be organized by the municipalities.

“Over the next few months, the work of healthcare and law enforcement workers will be paramount,” said the prime minister, who then thanked them for their work and asked people to support them in their efforts.

Hungarian jobs are also now in danger and the country is facing serious unemployment, he said. Consultations with sectors already in trouble have started, and the government's budget will now have to be completely replanned. Measures to help the Hungarian economy are being developed, and the prime minister has initiated talks with György Matolcsy, the governor of the Hungarian National Bank.

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