Brussels (Brussels Morning) He announced a government survey on the planned re-opening of the economy, and indicated that restrictions could be eased by early March and lifted fully around Easter, the first weekend in April.
“We could surely live our lives more freely if we observe the rules in a disciplined manner until then,” he observed.
Hungary under curfew, gatherings banned
The restrictions imposed in November last year include a 7.00 p.m. curfew and a ban on all gatherings. Hotels and restaurants were closed in November and remain shut.
Orbán also announced a new government programme for small businesses that will offer ten-year loans at interest rate of 0% to help cushion the blow of the coronavirus crisis.
He cited the need to increase Hungarian ownership in different sectors of the economy including construction and IT, after it was pushed above 50% in banking, media and energy in the last decade.
Orbán’s ruling party and businessmen close to him hold sway over the economy and often benefit from absorption of EU funds and deals with the state.
Finance Minister’s predictions
Finance Minister Mihály Varga predicts the economy will contract in the first quarter this year, followed by GDP growth of 13.8% on the annual level in the second quarter. He noted that the second quarter could mark a turning point, recalling how Hungary had imposed a severe lockdown in the second quarter of 2020.Hungary has vaccinated close to 250,000 citizens with coronavirus vaccines developed by US pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna. It is the first EU member state to sign deals for large quantities of Russian Sputnik V vaccine and the one developed by Chinese Sinopharm pharmaceuticals.