The head of the Prime Minister’s Office has announced that Pest County will join the rest of the country and ease its coronavirus-related restrictions. Budapest will remain under the original strict regime for the time being.
Gergely Gulyás noted in his weekly online press briefing that Pest County’s epidemic data bore greater similarity to other regions than to the capital’s. The government will soon decide on easing restrictions in Budapest, too, he added.
Physical distancing and face masks are still requirements, but restaurants and other catering facilities outside Budapest can open indoors areas to the public. Public parks and playgrounds, as well as hotels are also allowed to reopen from Monday, the minister added.
Gulyás said that in the government’s view restrictions in Budapest may also be eased soon.
The government sought the opinion of all district mayors and the city’s mayor, Gergely Kaáacsony, before turning to virologists for their views, Gulyás said. The final decision is in the hands of the operative board coordinating the epidemic response, he added.
Many district mayors “have expressed their opinions very clearly, while Karácsony seems to have no clear-cut view on the matter,” Gulyás said, adding that the government would take responsibility for the final decision.
Current regulations are in effect until Friday midnight, he said. New regulations will be made public on Friday or Saturday, he added.
Schools will definitely not re-open before June 2, Gulyás said, adding that it was conceivable that the academic year may be concluded even if students did not return to the classroom before the summer holiday.
The government has decided to allow day camps for children, while another decision on whether to allow overnight camping was conditional on the coronavirus situation at the end of May, he added.
Answering a question, he said that the government may rescind its special emergency powers towards the end of June unless the situation changed dramatically.
Concerning reports that several hospitals lacked supplies of protective gear, Gulyás said all hospitals in Hungary had supplies for at least the next ten days. Hospitals report their stock levels daily and the national supply centre takes action if replenishments are needed.
Answering a question on whether people may be detained and prosecuted for spreading false rumours via social media, Gulyás said: “Charges have not been raised except in two cases”. In one, the prosecutor “had a different view to the police and did not qualify the activities as criminal”. The authorities may make mistakes from time to time, but they can be held accountable and compensation is paid to anyone detained wrongfully.
The government has called on the authorities to limit such actions to “only the most justified cases”, he added.
Regarding the health-care system, Gulyás said it was crucially important that health capacities are kept flexible with a view to a possible second wave of the virus. Even after the state of emergency is over, regulations to ensure a rapid response must be left in place, he said.