Hungary reopens for people holding COVID-19 immunity cards

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungary on Saturday loosened a number of COVID-19 restrictions for people with government-issued immunity cards, the most recent in a collection of reopening measures which have adopted an bold vaccination marketing campaign.

As of Saturday, people with the plastic cards could enter indoor eating rooms, motels, theaters, cinemas, spas, gyms, libraries, museums and different leisure venues. Opening hours for companies had been prolonged to 11 p.m. and an in a single day curfew in place since November will now begin later, at midnight.

“In the past, we defended ourselves by closing, thereby slowing the spread of the virus. But now we are on the attack,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban mentioned Friday as he introduced the reopening. “The vaccine is like a bulletproof vest. The virus bounces off of it.”

Vaccinated people and those that have recovered from COVID-19 are eligible for the Hungarian immunity cards, which have to be offered at institutions earlier than entry. Businesses will be issued heavy fines if they permit non-card holders to enter.

Hungary has given out four million first-dose coronavirus vaccinations, reaching about 40% of its inhabitants. It is the one one of many European Union’s 27 nations to make use of vaccines from China and Russia along with Western jabs.

The nation has the second-highest vaccination fee within the EU, however a devastating pandemic surge this spring additionally gave Hungary the world’s highest general COVID-19 mortality fee per 1 million inhabitants on the earth, in accordance with Johns Hopkins University. It has seen over 27,500 deaths within the pandemic.

The complete difficulty of immunity cards or so-called COVID-19 passports is fraught, with critics saying they discriminate in opposition to people in poorer nations who don’t have entry to vaccines. Hungary has additionally been countering potential EU efforts to difficulty such paperwork solely to those that have gotten vaccines accredited by the EU’s regulatory company, not Chinese or Russian vaccine jabs.

A soccer match in Budapest on Saturday is predicted to confess followers holding immunity cards. A competing membership issued a press release saying masks wouldn’t be required within the stadium however urged followers to put on them anyway.

On Thursday, Hungary’s international affairs minister, Peter Szijjarto, introduced that journey between Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro can be permitted with out quarantines or testing necessities for immunity card holders from these international locations. Negotiations for comparable agreements are underway with Greece and Israel, he mentioned.

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Follow extra of AP’s pandemic protection at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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