Reopening can start when number of vaccinations reaches 2.5 million
19. 03. 2021.
We can start reopening the country when the number of vaccinations reaches 2.5 million, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning, Hungary’ on Friday.

The Prime Minister highlighted that the restrictions currently in effect will remain in force unchanged for at least a week from Monday.

He said it would have been simpler to decide about two weeks, but a great many things can change in a week; this is why at this time they only made a decision for a week. Additionally, Easter will pose increased risks due to the fact that the spread of the virus is linked to the number of contacts between people, he pointed out.

He highlighted that increasing the number of vaccinations is the most important means in the fight against the virus. Every week, four to five times as many people are being vaccinated as people falling ill, he said, adding that we must proceed with vaccinations swiftly, but this requires vaccines in sufficient numbers.

He said as in the next two months 500,000 fewer AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive than agreed, at least this many vaccines will have to be procured from the East in order to maintain the current vaccination rate. They are conducting talks about this, and there is a good chance that they will be able to replace the lost AstraZeneca vaccines with Chinese and Russian vaccines, he said.

Mr Orbán pointed out that the third wave is breaking record after record. On Thursday, 213 persons died, there are 1,174 persons requiring assisted ventilation, and there are more than 9,000 people in hospital. This is not the right moment to ease restrictions, he added.

He said there are another 1,618 hospital beds equipped with ventilators, and almost 11,000 free hospital beds, meaning that there are significant available capacities.

He recalled that he had recently consulted with hospital directors who are experienced and well-prepared people, and so every hospital is in safe hands. Everyone has problems, but they will be able to solve them with assistance from the central administration, the Prime Minister said.

He observed that the majority of residents had already been vaccinated and seconded, while medical students in their final year were now being inoculated.

The Prime Minister took the view that the country could hardly cope with any further restrictions. He asked families, young people and businesses to hold on, and once the economy can be reopened, he said, we can expect a robust and plentiful year.

He said the restrictions can only be lifted gradually, and we need a plan in which the measures relating to the restarting of the economy are adjusted to the number of people already vaccinated.

The Prime Minister also said the number of people who have already been inoculated will exceed 1.5 million on Friday. 1,260,000 persons have vaccination certificates, and together with those who have officially contracted the virus, there are some two million people with immunity.

He said those who are able to prove with a test that they have had the infection will also be entitled to an immunity certificate. There will be stages during the reopening of the country when the holders of immunity certificates will have access to a wider range of services, he added.

Mr Orbán asked the Left to stop their anti-vaccination campaign because with this they are risking people’s lives.

He said if they were allowed to publish the contracts concluded by the EU with pharmaceutical companies, everyone would be able to see the order of the procurement of vaccines. In hindsight, he regrets having believed the Brussels argument that procurements will be faster and more effective if the Member States leave this job to the EU, he said.

In his view, after the migration crisis, this is the second grave disappointment in European politics. At the time, Hungary did not understand why the EU insisted on inviting migrants in, instead of stopping them at its borders, he recalled. He added that this clearly shows that the time of nation states is not yet over.

The Prime Minister also said at this time they are expecting vaccines from Brussels, not passport regulations.

The whole of Europe, including Hungary, is in a poor state of mind, he said, adding that the country must be restarted and reunited also emotionally, but this is a task that points beyond politicians; in this we will need artists, churches, and everyone else.

He highlighted that at present in Hungary there is a shortage not of vaccination points, but of vaccines, and there is a plan about the opening of new vaccination points if necessary. They are making every effort to help general practitioners whose surgeries are not suitable for the administration of vaccines, he said.

Regarding the fact that Fidesz is leaving the European People’s Party (EPP), he said the time while Fidesz was a member of the EPP “was a fine time, a good time, but we had enough”. The first split in the relationship dates from the time of the migration crisis, but also earlier there were disputes when they did not receive clear support for the reduction of household utility charges, and the imposition of extra taxes on banks and multinational companies, he recalled.

The Prime Minister went on to say that differences had intensified, and when the pandemic set in, instead of helping governments with their efforts in the fight against the virus, the People’s Party decided to focus on changing its statutes. This is “undignified, absurd and inexpedient,” and so “it’s best to take one’s leave,” Mr Orbán said in summary.

He said he is in contact with the Polish Prime Minister and Italian politician Matteo Salvini, and these three countries will seek to reorganise the European Right, and to plan a future together.