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The Hungarian Prime Minister says some lockdown restrictions will be lifted on Wednesday after more than a quarter of the population was vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
In a video on Facebook Tuesday, Viktor Orban said a vaccination benchmark of 2.5 million initial shots had been hit, a condition for a gradual reopening to begin that will ease several pandemic restrictions.
“Today we reached an important milestone,” said Orban. “The virus has waged a war against us and the only weapon that promises victory is the vaccine.”
The decision to relax restrictions comes as Hungary grapples with a devastating surge in the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Johns Hopkins University, it has one of the highest infection rates in Europe in recent weeks and the third worst death rate per 1 million people in the world.
Starting Wednesday, businesses and services that have been closed since March 8 can reopen if capacity limits are enforced and social distancing is observed. The mandatory closing time for shops will be extended from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and the start of an overnight curfew, which has been in effect since November, will be extended by two hours to 10:00 p.m.
With less than 10 million inhabitants, Hungary has the second highest vaccination rate in the European Union due to a procurement strategy that sought shocks from China and Russia in addition to those that got through the EU.
“Hungary can and will be the European country where everyone can get a vaccine the fastest,” Orban said.
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