2020 – the Year of the Pandemic

When we toasted the arrival of 2020, nobody knew what the new year had in store, and no one would have believed that 2020 would bring a pandemic. But Hungary, its people and government, have done everything in their power to fight the coronavirus, with outstanding perseverance and results.

So, let’s sum up what happened this year and how we tackled COVID-19.

It was the last day of 2019, December 31, when the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission reported a cluster of infections and the novel coronavirus was identified. Then, January 5 was the day the World Health Organization published its first official report on the “Pneumonia of unknown cause — China.” At that time, we didn’t have anything to worry about yet over here in Hungary.

On March 4, 2020, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on his Facebook page that the coronavirus had appeared in Hungary via two infected Iranian students, and the country “entered the stage of defense.”

From this point on, events sped up, as on March 11, the Hungarian Government ordered a state of emergency, and on March 13, the prime minister announced the establishment of 10 emergency action groups and the closure of schools starting that next Monday. After taking the most important steps to defend the health and life of Hungarian citizens, the government immediately launched new economic protection measures (including a loan moratorium and tax exemptions) to support those sectors of the economy hardest hit by the pandemic.

The fight spread to additional fronts; while the Coronavirus Act and the protection of jobs and families were still on the agenda, we also had to deal with attacks from the Soros media and censorship.

After the first wave, the biggest challenge was to restart the economy, get back to normal life, and create as many jobs as the coronavirus destroyed; at the same time, we could not forget that the virus was still with us, it had not disappeared, and the epidemiological preparedness had to remain.

Despite our successful defense during the first wave, summer 2019 wasn’t about holidays; instead, it was about protecting jobs, supporting families, rebooting tourism, planning the next budget, and, most importantly, launching a new National Consultation about the pandemic. With all these measures, Hungary was prepared when the second wave arrived in Europe and again had to close its borders.

But this time, despite having to close our borders, we did not shut down the economy as, according to the National Consultation, the citizens’ message was that Hungary and the economy must continue functioning.

The government then introduced a set of new measures in September to strengthen its defense against the second wave and ordered a curfew on November 9. But as of today, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hungary has been negotiating with different drug companies for coronavirus vaccines, and vaccinations will start at the beginning of 2021.