Reopening economy before over-65s get Covid vaccine ‘would spell trouble’, Hungarian PM warns

Hungary’s prime minister has announced that the country’s economy will not reopen before all individuals over the age of 65 have been vaccinated against Covid 19, and warned that removing restrictions early “would spell trouble.”

In a Facebook video released on Tuesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban outlined the country’s plans to reopen the country’s economy, warning citizens that a third wave of coronavirus in Hungary had set back plans to ease restrictions.

“Regarding the date of reopening, we can say that before all people older than 65 who have registered for a vaccine are inoculated, we cannot reopen, as that would spell trouble,” Orban said.

The comments come days after the Hungarian prime minister suggested that some Covid strictures could be relaxed when another million people have been vaccinated, with the government hoping it can deliver “a restrictions-free summer.”

Unlike other European nations, Hungary has embraced Chinese- and Russian-made vaccines, becoming the first EU country to do so, allowing it to avoid some of the disruption caused by the issues in the wider continent’s vaccine rollout.

On Monday, the Hungarian Medical Chamber issued a warning to citizens to avoid public transport or unnecessary travel, and to reduce shopping trips to once a week to help relieve the stress on hospitals and health officials.

Orban’s response to the pandemic is set against the backdrop of the 2022 elections, with polls showing the ruling and opposition parties are currently neck and neck.

Since the start of the pandemic, Hungary has recorded 580,642 confirmed cases of Covid and 18,451 deaths from the disease. The country of 9.7 million has so far vaccinated more than 1.5 million people.