Fully 91 Covid patients, mostly elderly and suffering from an underlying illness, have died in the past 24 hours and coronavirus infections have risen by 5,203 to 152,659, koronavirus.gov.hu said on Tuesday.
Altogether 3,281 Covid patients have died since the appearance of coronavirus in Hungary, while 34,185 have made a recovery. There are currently 115,193 active infections and 7,477 patients are in hospital, 576 on ventilators.
Fully 35,042 people are in official home quarantine, while the number of tests stands at 1,388,132.
Most infections have been registered in Budapest (36,137), followed by Pest County (19,821), and the counties of Győr-Moson-Sopron (10,895), Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén (8,766), Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg (8,216) and Hajdú-Bihar (7,705). Tolna County has the fewest infections (2,060).
On November 10, lawmakers extended the government’s special powers by 90 days, allowing the government to suspend the application of some legislation, diverge from legal provisions and take other extraordinary measures by decree.
A major new rule is that face masks must be worn in public spaces in localities with more than 10,000 residents, though it is up to local mayors to decide which spaces the rule applies to.
Among other measures recently introduced: school classes from the eighth grade as well as universities are now holding lessons and lectures online.
Also, a curfew is in force between 8pm and 5am, and work carried out beyond the home must be justified.
With the exception of pharmacies and petrol stations, shops can be open until 7pm. Hairdressers, masseurs and personal trainers must observe general curfew rules.
Restaurants are limited to offering takeaways, while hotels are not allowed to cater to tourists, only guests arriving for business, economic or educational purposes. Sports events must be held behind closed doors. Also, leisure facilities such as fitness gyms, indoor swimming pools, museums, libraries, cinemas, zoos and skating rinks must suspend their services.
Events, including cultural events and Christmas fairs, cannot be held under the special rules.
Family and private events including birthday celebrations can be held with a maximum of ten people attending. Funerals can be held with not more than 50 people in attendance.
The government has asked religious communities to make sure their conduct during ceremonies aligns with general coronavirus safety rules.
From Monday, soldiers are helping the police in carrying out their duties in public areas. Soldiers have also been assigned to help out staff in 93 hospitals around Hungary.
Hungary is one of the better-protected EU countries in terms of the coronavirus, with 317 deaths per million in Hungary as against 481 in the European Union as a whole, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, said in an interview published in Tuesday’s issue of Magyar Nemzet.
Gulyás insisted that every possible measure had been taken to prepare for the second wave of the epidemic, adding that the country’s health-care system was up to the job of keeping pace with the transmission of the virus.
He said the coronavirus epidemic would have a bigger impact on the global economy than the 2008 global economic crisis.
Hungary’s currently favourable employment situation was a useful bulwark against the effects of the crisis, adding that there were now 900,000 more jobs during the coronavirus epidemic than when the country’s left wing was last in power.
Gulyás also noted Hungary’s good standing on the international financial markets, noting that the government had slashed public debt by almost 20 percentage points over ten years, though some of these gains had been lost since. “We showed discipline in the good years,” Gulyás said, adding that this put Hungary in good stead in troubled times.
On the topic of the current standoff over EU funding, he said the EU was attempting to establish for itself the right to intervene in Hungarian domestic affairs and in the domestic politics of member states it did not sympathise with.
Gulyás said issues such as whether Hungarians are free to decide who they want to live with are nothing to do with the rule of law but a question of “whether this country is governed from Brussels or in Budapest”.
Referring to Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, he said there was already a procedure for the rule of law.
“If anyone wants a new procedure that’s different, the treaty must be changed,” he said.
“The rule of law is not best served by trampling all over the rule of law.”
Regarding the US presidential election, Gulyás said Hungary, as an ally of the United States in NATO, had duty to work with the president who gained the trust of the American electorate. He added that the Democratic administration should reassess US foreign policy in the past few decades. “US prestige in central Europe waned until President Donald Trump’s inauguration because democratically elected governments in the region were not shown respect,” he said.
Gulyás said that had an election been held in Hungary similar to the one that has just taken place in the US, people in the Democratic Party would have been “our loudest critics”.