Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Friday announced a curfew in Hungary. People are only allowed to leave their homes to go to work or to run essential errands, Orbán said in an interview to public broadcaster Kossuth radio on Friday.
Grocery shops and pharmacies will be open to people above 65 years of age between 9 and 12 every day, he said.
Others will not be allowed in those shops during that period, he said.
The restriction is a somewhat stricter version of the curfew introduced in the German state of Bavaria, Orbán said, calling the measure “sensible and proportionate”.
Meanwhile, regarding Hungarian economic protection measures, he said: “Now the people come first, not the economy.” At the same time, the government, he said, is already working on a plan to protect and restart the economy, adding that the action plan will be made public in the first or second week of April.
Orbán paid tribute to health-care and law-enforcement staff, and also praised people who work in grocery shops, pharmacies and factories.
“I thank all Hungarians because if there is a war — and this is a war situation — the hinterland matters just as much as the front line,” he said, adding that the country was in an orderly state.
Orbán said the aim was to slow down the spread of the virus. To get rid of it altogeter would require a vaccine, he added.
The aim of the curfew, he said, was to “separate the most vulnerable elderly population from young people in a bearable way”.
Orbán said he expects the curfew to reduce person-to-person contact and in turn, slow the spread of the virus.
The prime minister said protecting doctors was among the top tasks.
Concerning Hungary’s domestic political situation, the prime minister said: “Politics isn’t what we need right now.” Instead, Hungary needs unity, “because the more of us unite, the more lives we can save.” Orban said the current crisis was not about power, but rather human lives.
Orbán said that because the government had not received the support it needed for certain measures in parliament this week, some of those measures had now become uncertain. These, he said, included entry bans. Such restrictions, however, have now been extended because “we can’t leave the country unprotected, even if the opposition refuses to contribute to making quick decisions.”
The rule on university closures is also set to expire, but rectors have been asked to keep the institutions closed, he noted.
Commenting on criticisms of Hungary’s epidemic response bill from the European Union, Orbán said: “They can investigate [the bill] for all I care. Good luck . with it!” He said there were situations when there was no room for politeness, and that he had made it clear to those in the EU “picking on Hungary” because of the bill that “now is not the time for being a smart aleck about legal and theoretical issues”. “There’s an epidemic, we have to save lives.”
For that matter, Hungary’s chief medical officer issued a decree banning with immediate effect all civilian passenger transport by air, rail or bus into Hungary, as well as the entry of non-Hungarian citizens into the country.
The decree was issued a few hours before the expiration of the government’s decrees under special powers on the same issues.
The decree also banned students from attending universities.
Hungarians entering the country were obliged to undergo medical examination.
The decree allowed a humanitarian corridor to be left open for foreigners travelling across Hungary into neighbouring countries, and made allowances for drivers in international freight transport.