Special announcement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán

3 November 2020, Budapest

At its meeting today the Government reviewed the pandemic situation in Hungary and also in a Europe-wide context. The spread of the pandemic has accelerated. In Austria the number of infections per million people is around 50 per cent higher than in Hungary, and further west the situation is even worse. This is important because, in our experience, the situation in Hungary tends to be five to seven days behind Austria. If that is the case now, and it has been so far, our hospitals will have reached full capacity by the middle of December. Now, as in the spring, the greatest threat from the pandemic is to the lives of the elderly and the chronically ill, meaning that our parents and grandparents are in grave danger. The time has come to take further steps to preserve the functioning of hospitals, and also to protect the lives of the elderly. Political debates must now be set aside, and we will need to act swiftly and enact measures in a timely manner. Most recently it took two weeks for Parliament to pass legislation penalising people breaking the rules on wearing face masks. This is absurd! In this situation it is utterly absurd. If the virus is spreading fast, then we also need to be fast. Therefore the Government has decided to reintroduce the special legal order from midnight tonight, and we are asking Parliament to extend this special legal order by 90 days. 

At today’s Cabinet meeting we also adopted some new decisions. At events and sporting events, in cinemas and theatres, only every third seat may be occupied, and without exception the wearing of face masks will be mandatory. The authorities will inspect every event, imposing fines if necessary, and shutting down venues where the rules are being violated. In such cases these venues will be shut down immediately. Anyone who does not follow the rules, does not wear a mask or does not practise social distancing is not only potentially endangering their own life, but also the lives of others. According to the Operational Group’s report, it is simply impossible to enforce these rules in nightclubs and similar venues. Therefore at their suggestion we have decided that such premises must close, and that there will be restrictions on being outdoors in public between midnight and 5 a.m. This means that everyone must arrive home by midnight. To reduce crowding on public transport we have ordered the provision of more frequent services during the morning and afternoon peak periods, and we have made parking free again.

We are increasing doctors’ salaries, and the necessary equipment is available in hospitals. In terms of the number of hospital beds we are ranked third in Europe, and in terms of ventilators are first in the world. Our doctors and nurses are continuing to do world-class work and putting their hearts and souls into restoring patients to health. This is a great deal, and their efforts are almost superhuman, but this is still not enough. The ultimate solution will be a vaccine. But the vaccine is already in sight, and we need to persevere: we must persevere until the vaccine arrives. We are in negotiations on this with the European Union, Russia, China and Israel.

The situation is serious, but we succeeded in the spring. If we show unity, if we observe the rules, together we shall succeed again.