Operative board sees no need to introduce specific measures for capital

Budapest mayor to convene special assembly meeting

Budapest's mayor, Gergely Karacsony, is convening a special meeting of the Budapest General Assembly next Monday with a view to ramping up protective measures against the coronavirus epidemic.

Proposals include tightening rules on mask-wearing and clamping down on people who refuse to wear a mask with stricter penalties, the Mayor’s Office said in a statement on Thursday.

Masks covering the nose and mouth should be worn in cinemas and theatres and other similar enclosed public spaces, according to the proposal.

Also, fines of up to 50,000 forints will be payable if warnings by public inspectors to abide by the rules go unheeded.

The General Assembly, acting on a proposal of Bela Merkely, the head of Semmelweis University, will decide on the provision of regular free coronavirus testing for employees of elderly care homes in the capital. Also, the government will be called on to introduce similar measures for people working in public education and health care.

Operative board sees no need to introduce specific measures for Budapest

The operative board coordinating Hungary’s response to the novel coronavirus epidemic sees no reason to introduce any special rules in Budapest beyond those that apply in the country as whole, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Thursday.

Responding to a letter from Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony, Orbán said the government would not discuss such a proposal without involving Karacsony.

The prime minister noted that all information about the virus relayed to the government since the start of the epidemic passed through the operative board headed by Interior Minister Sandor Pinter. The board’s job is to submit proposals regarding the handling of the epidemic to the government, he added.

“Anyone can access the results of the work carried out by the operative board, including the metropolitan council and the mayor,” the prime minister wrote.

Orbán recommended that Karacsony “establish a proper working relationship with the government’s operative board”.

“Hungary won the battle against the first wave of the epidemic,” he wrote. “We gained a lot of experience and tested many methods for defence against the virus.” These are the experiences on which Hungary has built its response to the second wave of the epidemic, Orbán added.

In a letter to the prime minister published on Facebook earlier on Thursday, Karacsony proposed expanding the scope of free virus testing with a view to curbing the spread of coronavirus. The mayor called for “speedy, unequivocal” statements on the government’s stance on free testing and on the danger of elderly people contracting the virus.

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