Coronavirus: Viktor Orbán Closes Hungary’s Borders to Fight the ‘Invisible Enemy’

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - FEBRUARY 17: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks to the media with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Parliament on February 17, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Putin is in Budapest on a one-day visit, his first visit to an EU-member country since he attended ceremonies marking the 70th …
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The conservative prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, called for “national unity” while announcing that the country will close its borders in response to the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the European Union.

In a speech delivered to the Hungarian parliament on Monday, Mr Orbán said that all foreigners will be barred from entering the country during the outbreak. Night clubs and bars will be closed throughout the country and restaurants, cafes, and shops will only be permitted to stay open until 3 pm, except for grocery stores and pharmacies.

Starting at midnight, all public events will be cancelled and the prime minister asked Hungarian citizens to refrain from gathering except for family events. Orbán also warned people over the age 70 to remain in their homes for their own safety during the outbreak, according to the Hungarian news outlet Index.

“We are facing an invisible and unknown enemy,” said the Hungarian leader, while admitting that “life in the next period will not be what we are used to”.

“We have consulted everyone in this plan. We are in contact with every European country, but we have to make the responsible decision,” said Orbán, adding that: “Unity and discipline are the most important reserves of power.”

So far, 39 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Hungary, including nine Iranians, one Briton, and 29 Hungarian citizens. Hungary also reported its first fatality from the virus on Sunday.

In his speech, Mr Orbán called for national unity in the face of the coronavirus.

“We have been in a difficult situation many times, quite a few times in the last ten years. We have learned that no matter what the danger, we have the greatest chance of coming together. We must do so now. We need the widest possible national cooperation,” he said.

The prime minister went on to warn that “serious unemployment threatens the country” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with the tourism and hospitality industries already feeling the effects of the virus.

Mr Orbán called for the country’s budget to be redesigned to focus on job protection, saying that his government would not be compensating salaries, but rather focus on making sure employers do not have to lay people off during the outbreak.

“Hard times are coming, we don’t have much knowledge, but what’s more, the alarming speed that the virus is spreading at is going to accelerate. Now the real load is coming, now the hard times are coming,” he said.

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