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Orban Says Hungary To Scrap Most COVID Curbs

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said the time has come to say "goodbye to masks." (file photo)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said the time has come to say "goodbye to masks." (file photo)

Hungary will lift most remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including a night-time curfew, as soon as the number of those vaccinated reaches 5 million this weekend, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on May 21.

In his weekly interview with state radio, Orban said masks would no longer need to be worn in public, and gatherings of up to 500 people could be held in the open air. Events in closed spaces will be open to those with vaccination cards, he said.

"This means we have defeated the third wave of the pandemic," Orban said, adding that the time has come to say "goodbye to masks" in public places.

Hungary is the only EU member state that has given the green light to Russian and Chinese vaccines in large quantities before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has examined or approved them.

Hungary now has one of the EU's highest inoculation rates, with 50 percent of its population of around 10 million having already been given at least one shot.

According to a deal reached yesterday, citizens of the EU's 27 countries will be able travel within the bloc once they get a digital health pass displaying their vaccination status, results of COVID-19 tests, or whether they have recovered from a coronavirus infection.

However, it remains unclear if Hungarians inoculated with the Russian and Chinese vaccines will enjoy the same travel facilities as the rest of the EU citizens who got the EMA-approved jabs.

On May 20, Hungary opted out of a new agreement the EU has signed with Pfizer and BioNTech for the supply of up to 1.8 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine -- the only member of the bloc to do so.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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