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Hungary Eases COVID Restrictions Despite Death Spike

Shops that had been closed since early March were allowed to open again in Hungary on April 7, but with limited numbers of customers. (file photos)

BUDAPEST -- Hungary has begun reopening shops and services on after more than one quarter of its population was inoculated with at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

However, some medical experts and medical experts urged caution after the country recorded its highest daily death toll yet from COVID-19.

The authorities reported 311 new coronavirus-related deaths on April 7, bringing the total to more than 22,400.

The country has recorded nearly 700,000 infections since the start of the pandemic, with more than 12,000 patients still in hospital and over 1,400 of them on ventilators.

"I hope we will see a plateau in the near future, the data gives us hope...but the numbers are still very high," said Cecilia Muller, Hungary's chief medical officer.

Muller told reporters that the April 7 record daily death tally was partly due to a lag in data reported from hospitals over the Easter holidays.

Under the partial reopening on April 7, shops that had been closed since early March were allowed to open again but with limited numbers of customers. Restaurants are open for takeaway or delivery services only.

The overnight curfew in place since November now starts two hours later.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced the easing of the lockdown measures on April 6, after Hungary reached 2.5 million first-dose vaccinations -- a benchmark that the government had set for when a gradual reopening could move forward.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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    RFE/RL’s Hungarian Service -- closed after the Cold War ended -- was relaunched on September 8, 2020, in response to the country’s steep decline in media freedom. It's an entirely digital service dedicated to serving the public interest by representing a diversity of views and providing reliable, unbiased reporting about the issues audiences care about most.