Slovaks lockdown unvaccinated as Hungary’s Orban opts for masks

As the COVID-19 situation sharply deteriorates in the CEE region, both the Slovak and Hungarian governments introduce new measures. [Shutterstock / Raketir]

As the COVID-19 situation sharply deteriorates in the CEE region, both the Slovak and Hungarian governments introduce new measures. Bratislava has chosen a light version of a ‘lockdown for the unvaccinated’, while Budapest has tightened mask rules.

The Slovak government agreed on stricter measures for the unvaccinated on Thursday, after days of waiting amid worsening numbers of newly infected and hospitalised.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger called the new measures a “lockdown for the unvaccinated” but the unvaccinated can still go to the pharmacy or buy groceries. However, they will be forbidden from going to the office, visiting gyms, swimming pools, and shopping malls. Another novelty is the closure of restaurants in the counties marked as ‘black’ on the national COVID map.

“Unfortunately, doctors have to decide today who to help and whom not,” the prime minister said. Heger pointed out that these measures will last for three weeks. He hopes the situation will stabilise in that time.

Experts are, however, not optimistic. Some of them proposed a total lockdown, an opinion taken by the health minister Vladimír Lengvarský, who proposed this measure at the coalition meeting. While rejected, for now, the coalition agreed that stronger measures would apply in the whole country when certain conditions are met. Authors of the automat say that this will mean Slovakia is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. One of the conditions is more than 3200 people are hospitalised with COVID. Currently, the number is 2904.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian government also announced new measures on Thursday, Telex reported. Masks will have to be worn in all enclosed spaces except offices and sports halls from Saturday.

Public events with more than 500 people can only be attended with a COVID certificate, and the third mandatory vaccination is in the works. Digital education in schools is not planned, however.

For service providers, masks will be compulsory wherever more than five people are regularly present in a room. Principals will be given the right to decide on the mask policy in their schools.

For Hungary, in terms of COVID-19 statistics, this period is similar to the November wave a year ago.

Although there were no vaccines to protect against severe outbreaks at the time, the number of people hospitalised and those on ventilators at the time was comparable to the numbers now. Last year’s and this year’s figures are 7,500 and 6,000 respectively, with almost the same number of people needing ventilation as a year ago. More infected people are now being admitted to hospitals and ventilated, however.

(Michal Hudec | EURACTIV.sk, Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | EURACTIV.com with Telex)

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