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‘Sounds like a normal life’: Hungary heads towards further reopening of economy as it approaches 40% inoculation rate

Budapest is set to reopen most of its public services and venues to those vaccinated once the country hits a 40% inoculation rate, the country’s PM Viktor Orban has said. The milestone is likely to be reached next week.

Hungary’s prime minister touted the upcoming reopening of the country’s economy as he spoke to public radio on Friday. The country is expected to inoculate some four million of its 10 million population by the end of April.

“At four million people vaccinated, and I think that will come next Wednesday or Thursday, we will open a wide range of services for those who have immunity certificates,” Orban stated.

The venues allowed to open their doors for holders of immunity certificates will include hotels, restaurants and bars with indoor seating, theaters, and cinemas, as well as other sports and cultural venues. “Sounds like a normal life,” the PM added.

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The immunity certificates are issued to those who have been vaccinated, as well as those who have contracted coronavirus previously. The latter certificates, however, are valid only for six months after recovery, while the certificates of those who have been inoculated have no expiration date.

Hungary, which enjoys one of the highest vaccination rates in the EU, began the gradual reopening of its economy earlier this month. At the same time, it also recently suffered the highest daily per capita Covid-related deaths in the world. The massive vaccination drive, however, has seemingly helped to alleviate the situation, with the hospitalization rate and number of those on ventilators falling in recent days, according to EU data.

Hungary has imported the highest number of vaccine doses per capita among EU members, approving multiple vaccines from around the world without waiting for the EU regulators. Budapest has been widely using shots produced by China’s Sinopharm and the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine.

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Budapest cited high infection rates and a sloppy joint European vaccine rollout as the reasons for procuring vaccines from third countries without waiting for them to be granted EU-wide approval. The decision has been repeatedly criticized by various parties, yet Budapest has shot back, urging its critics not to turn the Covid-19 vaccination into a political issue. The improving epidemic situation in the country has clearly shown it was the right thing to do, Orban believes.

“I don’t care if a cat is black or white,” he said. “I just want it to catch the mouse.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hungary has registered some 760,000 cases of coronavirus. Over 26,000 people have succumbed to the disease across the country.

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