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Terraces may reopen on Saturday

He highlighted that by the middle of next week, sometime on Wednesday or Thursday, the number of vaccinated individuals could reach four million at which point a wide range of services will be made available to people holding immunity certificates. Theatres, cinemas, museums, libraries, dance and music events, circuses, sports and fitness centres, ice skating rinks, zoos, spas and bathing complexes, swimming pools, indoor play centres, sports events and adventure parks will be allowed to reopen along with hotels and the interior premises of restaurants and cafes, he listed.

He stressed that they are restarting the country step by step.

Mr Orbán also said young people aged between 16 and 18 can be inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine, and therefore they are setting aside a quantity of these vaccines that is enough for them. Hungary is not yet taking the risk of inoculating those aged between 12 and 16 as this requires further tests, he added.

The Prime Minister said they were required to change a few rules in connection with the reopening of the terraces of restaurants and cafes, and as terraces will be allowed to remain open until half past nine in the evening, from Saturday the curfew will start at 11.00 p.m.

He said the reopening of schools had been smoother than anticipated, the number of children returning to school was well above fifty per cent both in nursery and elementary schools.

He pointed out that while there was an ongoing debate about the efficacy of vaccines, the probability of a person having received the first dose becoming ill again is around one per cent, and so a person who has received the first dose can be regarded as effectively immune. Vaccination continues to remain a priority, and by the middle of next week more than half of the adult population will have been immunised, he said, adding that the government has launched a new Internet-based platform where people can book vaccination appointments.

According to Mr Orbán, the voice of anti-vaccination adherents is loud, and the entire opposition, the entire Left belong to that group, despite the fact that every vaccine is equally effective, he highlighted.

As in the coming days vaccines will be arriving in large quantities, by mid-May the situation could arise that everyone who registered will be vaccinated. From then on, Hungarians from around the world will be free to come and have themselves vaccinated, he said.

Regarding the extension of the state of danger, the Prime Minister said the threat of the pandemic has not passed yet, and the country must remain operational and have full acting capacity. It is important that this remain the situation also during the summer period when Parliament is not in session, and that the government should be able to make every necessary decision also during that period, he explained.

He said the number of fatalities is not the subject-matter of some political contest, and people should speak about the deceased with more dignity. The EU has a web platform where they publish the number of fatalities during the year of Covid compared with the last year in peace. Hungary has “a tenable position” in this regard, and is among the better-performing countries, he said, adding, however, that in Hungarian statistics no distinction is made between those who die of Covid and those who die with Covid.

The Prime Minister also said there are too many interests in the background as regards the issue of vaccines, including those of pharmaceutical companies. However, geopolitics has also been mixed into the issue of vaccines; politics has overridden the requirement of humanity, despite the fact that when it comes to saving lines, this cannot be politicised. The conclusion is that Hungary is doing well with vaccinations because no one can tell us what to do, he stated, adding that in Hungary decisions are made on the basis of a single criterion, and that is what national interests dictate.

He said the proposed amendment to the 2021 budget is aimed at the restarting of the economy, and the 2022 budget, too, will focus on this. They have launched an enormous housing refurbishment programme, hundreds of billions of forints have been made available to businesses, and a great many things have started, he recalled.

Regarding his talks in Brussels on Friday, Mr Orbán took the view that financial issues are now in order, and he would rather talk about issues concerning the future of the EU, including how the EU will prepare for similar pandemics, what conclusions they have drawn, and what the status of relations with the new US administration is, he said.

Finally, evaluating the work of the police, he said if there is no clear order, there is no freedom either, and those who maintain law and order protect our freedom; this is how it should be in a democracy. The fact that in the past year law and order have been maintained in Hungary is thanks to the police, and so we must thank them, too, for their work, the Prime Minister said.