Govt extends emergency measures

Hungary’s government has ordered the extension of emergency measures aimed at combatting the novel coronavirus epidemic, the Government Information Centre said on Tuesday.

On Monday, parliament passed a law that grants the government enhanced powers to contain the spread of the virus. The law will end by a decision of parliament once the state of emergency has been declared over. In a statement, the Government Information Centre said that the government over the past several weeks had introduced a number of measures aimed at protecting public health and keeping the economy going. It said the measures had been effective in slowing down the spread of the virus and limiting the economic toll of the epidemic.

The law passed on Monday extends the appointment of hospital commanders tasked with heading the country’s hospitals along with the government’s economic measures such as the suspension of loan payments and enforcement orders, the centre noted. It also upholds the provision under which the rental contracts of businesses in the tourism, catering, entertainment, sport and culture sectors cannot be cancelled before June 30.

Also, up until the end of June, employers are exempt from paying taxes on salaries, and the health insurance contribution is being capped at 7,710 forints (EUR 21) and will be the only employment contribution during this period. Certain other contributions related to tourist operators are also forgiven. The government declared the state of emergency in connection with protective measures against the virus on March 11.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Hungary has risen to 492, according to the koronavirus.gov.hu website. Altogether 16 people have died and 37 recovered. Fully 61 people are in quarantine, and 14,146 coronavirus tests have been conducted. In addition to Hungarians, the cases include ten Iranians, two Britons, one Kazakh and one Vietnamese.

The Government Information Centre published detailed information on the sixteen patients who died. According to the data published on the koronavirus.gov.hu website, all but one of the patients who tested positive for the novel coronavirus infection and who subsequently died had had an underlying condition. The majority were male and older than 70.

In short

  • Ruling Fidesz has given up the idea of “fighting the coronavirus crisis through national cooperation”, a co-leader of opposition LMP told an online press conference. Concerning parliament’s passing the government’s coronavirus bill on Monday, Janos Kendernay said that no other national assembly in Europe had “waived its rights and responsibilities without a time limit”. The Hungarian parliament has given up its right “to practise democracy even in a difficult situation and exercise control over the government”, he went on to say.
  • Opposition Jobbik has said effective efforts are needed in the fight against novel coronavirus, including comprehensive testing and honest press reports, instead of “excessive powers” handed to the government. Referring to Monday’s parliamentary vote approving a law that grants the government enhanced powers to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, the nationalist party’s deputy group leader, Koloman Brenner, told an online press conference on Tuesday that it had been a “dark day for democracy”.

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