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Apr 02, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Epidemic response law ends when state of emergency ends

The justice minister has stressed that Hungary’s new law which enhances government powers to tackle the coronavirus epidemic will be in effect until the end of the state of emergency.

The justice minister has stressed that Hungary’s new law which enhances government powers to tackle the coronavirus epidemic will be in effect until the end of the state of emergency.

According to MTI, Judit Varga noted the similarities in “the responses of all countries” to the virus, insisting the Hungarian parliament had “more powers than usual” as it can withdraw the law and the special powers granted to the government at any time. The end of the state of emergency, however, will be determined by objective factors, she said.

Regarding the passages in law on punishments of 1-5 years in prison for spreading fake news, Minister Varga said the law aimed to “raise awareness” about the need to stay disciplined during the emergency. She said the prison sentencing is designed for anyone who intentionally disseminates falsehoods during the related period and obstructs the protection measures. Expressing opinions, including criticism of the government, does not come under that heading, she added.

The minister said the order of elections is enshrined in the Hungarian constitution. The next general election will be held in 2022, “and this law has nothing to do with that,” she added.

Minister Varga rejected the accusation that Hungary’s government had conducted a power grab as “unfounded”, saying it was “in vogue” in Europe to criticize Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government. That government, however, won two-thirds majorities in three consecutive elections, Minister Varga said. “We are true Europeans but critical [of Europe], and we are attacked for that,” she said.

A call center set up for advice on the coronavirus can be reached on +36-80-277-455 and +36-80-277-456 or by email koronavirus@bm.gov.hu