By Krisztina Than
BUDAPEST – Hungary will close bars and entertainment venues and impose a night-time curfew to curb a fast spread of coronavirus infections, Prime Minister ViktorOrban said in a video posted on his official Facebook page onTuesday.
Orban said the government would introduce a “special legalorder” as of midnight and would ask parliament to extend it by90 days.
During the first wave of the pandemic, Orban soughtopen-ended special powers, facing accusations from human rightsgroups and opposition parties of making a power-grab which hisgovernment denied. In June, parliament revoked the specialpowers as the pandemic ebbed. nL8N2DT2YB
Orban said on Tuesday that the new measures were needed toprevent hospitals reaching capacity by mid-December. The curfewwill be in effect from midnight until 5 a.m..
“The time has come to take further measures to ensure acontinued operation of hospitals and …protect the elderly,”Orban said.
The government will publish details of the measures later.
Schools remain open, as well as all shops and restaurants,and soccer games will continue to be played in front ofthousands of spectators nationwide.
Trying to minimise further harm to the recession-hiteconomy, Orban’s nationalist government has so far refrainedfrom imposing strict lockdown measures.
From Monday, those violating rules on wearing face masksrisk stiff fines, with offending restaurants and shops to beclosed by authorities if necessary.
Last week the National Medical Chamber called on thegovernment to limit the opening hours of restaurants andreimpose special shopping hours for the elderly as the number ofCOVID-19 patients rises. These measures have not been taken.
Hungary reported 3,989 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday,its highest single-day tally, while the daily death toll alsorose to a record high of 84. The total death toll rose to 1,973and the number of patients treated in hospitals jumped to 4,767from 4,417 on Monday.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Janet Lawrence andMarguerita Choy)