BUDAPEST- Hungary will loosen several COVID-19 pandemic restrictions for holders of a government-issued immunity card in the latest round of reopenings that the government has tied to the number of administered vaccines.
Beginning Saturday morning, card holders may access indoor dining rooms, hotels, theaters, cinemas, spas, gyms, libraries, museums and other recreational venues. Opening hours for businesses will also be extended to 11 p.m., and the start of an overnight curfew in place since November will be extended until midnight.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the reopening comes as Hungary reaches 4 million first-dose vaccinations, representing about 40% of the population.
Hungary Becomes First European Nation to Receive Chinese Sinopharm Coronavirus Vaccine https://t.co/hTmt9lrlOS
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“In the past, we defended ourselves by closing, thereby slowing the spread of the virus. But now we are on the attack,” he said. “The vaccine is like a bulletproof vest, the virus bounces off of it.”
On Thursday, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto announced that travel between Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro would be permitted without quarantine or testing requirements for immunity card holders from those countries. Negotiations for similar agreements are underway with Greece and Israel, Szijjarto said.
Hungary is the only country in the European Union to use vaccines from China and Russia in addition to Western jabs. It has the second highest vaccination rate in the EU, but a devastating pandemic surge in the spring has given it the highest total death rate per 1 million inhabitants in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.