Speaking about the current pandemic situation, the prime minister noted that the level of danger was milder during the Christmas holidays, but the virus is still here. Even though the Omicron variant is weaker than previous ones, we need to protect against it, and the best tool in our hands to do so is vaccination, the PM said. He recommended that everyone get the third dose and asked parents to consider getting their children vaccinated as well.
“The healthcare system is ready to vaccinate everyone,” he underlined, adding that on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in January, those wishing to get vaccinated may do so without having to book an appointment.
In light of yesterday’s Kormányinfó announcements, Prime Minister Orbán also confirmed that new pandemic measures will take effect.
Following foreign examples, the quarantine period will be shortened from 10 to 7 days, or 5 days with a negative test, the PM said, adding that in schools, if there is a new infection in a class, only those not vaccinated will have to go into quarantine for 5 days.
He reiterated that the rules concerning immunity certificates will change as well. Starting February 15, the certificates will be linked to vaccinations only, meaning people will not be able to obtain one simply after recovering from a COVID infection. Furthermore, only those who have received their second dose within the last six months or have received their third dose will get an immunity certificate. In the case of children, two jabs will be necessary for the issuance of the certificate.
The prime minister emphasized that the third jab greatly increases immunity; meanwhile, a fourth dose may be available after four months and may even be recommended after six months, following a consultation with a GP.
“Hospital capacities are fantastic,” he said, given that they withstood incredible pressure during the previous waves of the pandemic.
Asked about inflation, PM Orbán said “it cannot be stopped at the national borders, but the government can cushion its effects by raising wages and pensions and by capping prices in specific areas.”
He cited utility price cuts in force since 2013, which are having a particularly good effect now, and said that Hungarians are probably not aware of the social tensions that soaring energy prices are presently causing in Western Europe. He added that an interest rate freeze was introduced on mortgages, fuel prices have been fixed, and prices for several basic foods will be capped at their level from October 15 of last year for the next 90 days.
“We are trying to protect families even in times of inflation,” he said, underlining that the recent price cap measures are unprecedented in Europe.
Asked about possible infringement procedures from the EU in response to Hungary’s price regulations, he said we cannot ignore negative trends in the economy today. “We must intervene, even if they do not think so in Brussels,” the PM said.
Finally, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spoke about the upcoming child protection referendum, which will take place on April 3 along with the parliamentary elections. Referring to the recent criticism of the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, he said that adults are free to choose their lifestyle in Hungary and that the referendum does not apply to them, but to the protection of children.
The natural right of parents to have control over the upbringing of their children, especially in sensitive areas such as sex education, must be recognized, he said. “No Hungarian parent should feel that they are deprived of this right,” the prime minister concluded.