Normal life can gradually be resumed based on strict timetable in second phase of containment effort
24. 04. 2020.
The first phase of the containment of the coronavirus epidemic will come to an end at the end of next week, and so the government will replace the restrictions on movement with new regulations, and it will be possible to gradually return to normal life, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning, Hungary’.

In the first phase of the containment effort, Hungary has been prepared for the eventuality of a worst-case scenario. In the second phase that will start after this initial phase, normal life can gradually be resumed in Hungary on the basis of a strict timetable, he explained, stressing that a condition of this is to ensure that they can duly protect those most at risk – the elderly, persons suffering from chronic diseases and those living in big cities – also during the phase of restarting normal life. Regarding the persons mentioned, special regulations will have to be created before the end of next week; this work is under way “at full speed”, the Prime Minister added.

The Prime Minister said they are closely monitoring Austria’s timetable; there, shops, schools and museums are gradually reopening. He took the view that “they are perhaps moving ahead a little faster than Hungary should, according to what my instincts dictate”. He warned that we should follow in their footsteps “at a fair distance”, meaning that “we should not proceed as fast as the Austrians, but should not fall back far behind”.

Regarding the expected rules applicable to big cities, he said, on the whole, the possibility of giving special powers to mayors to tighten the restrictions in place has worked. Therefore, the government will issue a decree for every weekend in which it will vest the leaders of settlements with such powers. However, after 4 May, general rules will have to apply. At the same time, if a settlement is “special” or has specific features for any reason, the mayor will have the authority to create specific local rules, he said.

Speaking about the vacating of hospital beds, Mr Orbán stressed that the government must create the opportunity for not having to surrender a single patient’s life.

“If we do not want to live locked up bunker-style until the end of our lives, or until a vaccine is discovered – the date of which is totally uncertain – […] we have two possibilities”: either we manage to restart life, or “there could be surprises,” he said, adding that if the virus breaks loose at the time of returning to normal life, then all of a sudden we would need tens of thousands of hospital beds and thousands of ventilators which is simply impossible.

Therefore, he believes the responsible thing to do is to create the hospital capacity which could be required in the event of a worst-case scenario. The purpose of the first phase of the containment effort is to slow down the spread of the virus and to prepare health care for a previously unprecedented patient load.

He stated that not a single Hungarian will be left by the wayside, “we will not give up a single patient, we will fight for everyone”.

The Prime Minister listed all the things that have been put into place or created since the appearance of the disease: a state-of-danger control system, a special border policing and traffic system, identification and isolation of the infected, a special health care control system, state-of-danger health care protocols, identification and protection of social groups most at risk, a new supplies system, development of domestic industrial capacities, utilisation of research capabilities, a special legal order, a procedure for the involvement of the armed forces, an economy protection action plan, the re-writing of the budget and the development of international disease control relations. “The country has learnt all that” in just 6 weeks, and “the Hungarians did not panic when trouble hit,” he said in evaluation.

Regarding economic measures, Mr Orbán pointed out that the biggest problem is emerging in the lives of employers, and so as many jobs must be rescued as possible, and new ones must be created.

He also said the job-seekers’ support is available for 3 months, and “today it’s still only day forty-something, so it will be available for some more time”. He sincerely hopes that “by the time we get to the end of this”, with the aid of the job preservation and job creation grants, the economy’s rev count will be nearly back to where it was. He is preparing for a swift recovery, he said.

In the context of the previous day’s EU summit, he observed that so far Hungary had not received a single penny for the containment of the epidemic from the EU.

At the summit, they managed to agree that from the funds that will be available during the next seven-year fiscal period, they will bring forward larger sums to be spent this year and next year, and the utilisation of funds will be more flexible, he said, adding that they also agreed that compared with earlier plans, they will have to create a substantially larger budget, meaning that every Member State will have to contribute more.

They failed to agree, however, as to whether the funds to be mobilised with regard to the economic consequences of the epidemic should be an EU-guaranteed loan or “a gift”.

Mr Orbán also spoke about the attacks on the Hungarian coronavirus legislation, arguing that he is not especially bothered by attacks coming from the capitals of nation states such as Berlin. “They have about as much significance as what we think about Berlin here in Budapest. […] The difference is that we are polite, and we don’t always say what we think,” he observed.

Brussels is, however, another matter: “Brussels has been occupied by bureaucrats, and over there, there is more limited scope for reason,” he said, adding that “over there, we always see George Soros’s hand in everything”.

In this regard, he referred to George Soros’s writing about the management of the economic consequences of the epidemic as the most important news of the week. He described it as “Soros Plan No. 2”. According to Mr Soros, what we need is for the EU to issue perpetual bonds on which the principal does not need to be repaid, but interest would be paid indefinitely; “we continue paying as long as we live”. “They love interest,” he said.

The Prime Minister said this financial proposal is at least as dangerous as the migrant resettlement plan was.