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16 May, 2020 18:22

Hungary’s Orban says Budapest lockdown will now be gradually lifted amid Covid-19 powers row with EU

Hungary’s Orban says Budapest lockdown will now be gradually lifted amid Covid-19 powers row with EU

The gradual removal of coronavirus restrictions will begin in Budapest from Monday, bringing Hungarian PM Victor Orban closer to fulfilling his promise to give up the emergency powers that had angered the EU. 

“It has become clear that we have managed to curb the epidemic in Budapest as well…and thus we can lift the lockdown,” Orban announced in a video address on his Facebook page. 

However, the prime minister pointed out that the government will be moving “cautiously” towards what he called the second phase of defense against the virus in Hungary’s capital and largest city, which has a population of more than 1.7 million. 

The rest of the country saw Covid-19 restrictions removed two weeks ago. So far, 3 473 people have been infected and 448 have died of coronavirus in Hungary, with more than half of the cases having been recorded in Budapest. 

Orban, whose relationship with the EU has always been strained because of his unwillingness to accept migrants, among other issues, has again made headlines during the pandemic. The open-ended emergency powers accorded him by parliament in late March to fight Covid-19 more effectively were slammed by Brussels as a step toward “authoritarianism.” 

Also on rt.com ‘Time to APOLOGIZE!’ Orban hits back at critics as he plans to hand back emergency Covid-19 powers that caused major spat with EU

With the lockdown measures having stemmed the spread of the virus, the PM said on Friday that he was going to renounce those special powers by the end of the month. He promised to “give a chance to everyone to apologize to Hungary for the unjust accusations,” adding that he also expected “their admiration for the success of Hungary’s defense” against the pandemic.

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