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Hungary Declares State Of Emergency, Announces COVID-19 Restrictions

An elementary school in Oroshaza is disinfected after a registered case of COVID-19 on October 24.

Hungary will introduce a state of emergency and impose fresh restrictions to stem a surge in coronavirus infections.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Facebook on November 3 that new steps were needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and to protect the lives of the elderly.

The state of emergency will begin from midnight on November 4, allowing the government to adopt measures by decree.

The so-called "special legal order" can last 15 days.

Orban said parliament would be asked to extend the emergency measure for another 90 days.

"We have to put aside political debates. Fast action and measures brought in time are needed," Orban said, adding that hospitals could reach capacity by mid-December.

In March, the right-wing leader was accused by human rights groups and the opposition of attempting a power grab when he introduced a state of emergency with no time limit.

He gave up those powers again in June after the first wave of the pandemic subsided.

In other measures to stem the spread of the virus, Orban said a curfew will be in effect from midnight to 5 a.m.

Restaurants and clubs will close, while theaters, cinemas, and other event locations will be allowed to operate under limited capacity.

Similar to elsewhere in Europe, coronavirus cases and deaths in Hungary have surged in recent weeks.

On November 3, Hungary reported a record daily 84 new deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the country's overall death toll to 1,973, while the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals reached 4,767.

Hungary's first lockdown in the spring kept the number of deaths and infections relatively low.

During the second wave of the virus hitting Europe, Orban has tried to avoid painful lockdowns as have been imposed in other parts of Europe, including Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

Schools remain open, as well as all shops and restaurants.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters

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