Hungary is going to impose a two-week lockdown for slowing down the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, which is expected rise in the country in June or July, prime minister Viktor Orban stated on Friday.

The citizens will be allowed to go out for work, shop and also take limited exercise outside during the lockdown, which is going to start on Saturday, but should maintain a distance with each other, Orban stated on public radio also adding that the restrictions will be enforced by police.

Turkey to enforce lockdown

SARS-CoV
SARS-CoV Wikimedia Commons

The government, which along with the central bank has already taken steps to shore up growth, will present a post-outbreak action plan for the economy in the first or second week of April, he said, without giving details. Hungary has recorded around 300 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths. Orban has said the actual number of cases is probably much higher.

"Restrictions put in place so far have been efficient," Orban said. "Hungarians reduced the magnitude of social contact (but) ... the decline has stopped, so we had to impose the movement restrictions." In the lockdown decree published on Friday, citizens are also permitted to go on errands for the vulnerable, while those over 65 can only shop between 9:00 a.m. and noon and restaurants can only open for takeaway and home deliveries.

Orban's government has pushed for an open-ended extension

Orban's government has pushed for an open-ended extension of a state of emergency that would give it the right to bypass parliament. Legislators are due to vote on the measure next week. German lawmaker Norbert Roettgen, a conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel who chairs the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, called on EU authorities to intervene against that legislation.

"The (European) Commission has to act immediately," he told weekly magazine Der Spiegel. Orban has progressively tightened his hold on power during his decade in office and critics say he is moving the country toward becoming an autocracy, an accusation he rejects.

(With agency inputs)