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PM Viktor Orbán in Hungarian Parliament

The Law to Give Government Extra Powers Takes Effect

D&T
March 31, 2020

The government of Viktor Orbán has been granted sweeping new powers for an unlimited period of time to manage the country’s coronavirus epidemic. According to a government spokesman, this law – which allows the government to bypass parliament – makes it possible to introduce “extraordinary measures” that are needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The law took effect at 00.00 hours on Tuesday.
The bill was passed by Hungarian parliament with the ruling Fidesz party’s two-thirds majority this Monday. All opposition members of parliament voted against the proposal after their request that the law should include a 90-day limit had been denied by government MPs. Critics are particularly concerned about measures that would allow those found to have spread false information about the pandemic to be jailed for five years. The law also drew criticism from the European Union and some Democrat and Republican senators in the United States.
In Parliament, PM Orbán stated that they would use these new powers necessary for eliminating the state of danger in a proportionate and reasonable manner and would, at the end of the epidemic, return all powers to Parliament.
“We must prepare for physicians falling ill,” he said. He stressed at the same time that doctors over 65 are not allowed near infected patients. Doctors falling ill will be replaced with residents whose specific training has started. This is taking place according to a military action plan, he stated.
Regarding the wearing of face masks, he said they cannot introduce it on a mandatory basis because at present, there is no guarantee that there will be enough face masks in pharmacies as all available supplies are being stockpiled for hospitals. As a result, he can only ask people to wear face masks.

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