Hungary to re-open restaurant terraces next week, PM Orban says

·1-min read
A man wearing a protective face mask walks next to closed restaurants in downtown Budapest

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary will allow restaurant terraces to re-open once 3.5 million people, about a third of the population, are inoculated against COVID-19, a target expected to be hit sometime next Wednesday or Thursday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said.

Hungary began gradually re-opening shops and services after inoculating a quarter of its population last week in a move that, with hospitals still overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, the Hungarian Medical Chamber called premature.

Orban, who is walking a tightrope between daily deaths stuck around record highs and mounting pressure to drag the economy out of last year's recession, announced further moderate easing steps on Wednesday, including those involving restaurants.

"We will again get a part of our old lives back," Orban said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

Orban also said schools can be re-opened gradually, meaning kindergartens will re-open from next Monday. Classroom teaching will resume only in the first four grades of primary schools; other years will return on May 10.

Last week, the Teachers' Democratic Trade Union said classroom teaching should not resume next Monday. Local media have reported some teachers and parents were reluctant to send their children to school amid current high infection rates.

As of Wednesday, Hungary had reported 24,265 COVID-19 deaths and 731,675 total cases.

(Reporting by Anita Komuves and Gergely Szakacs; editing by Hugh Lawson, Larry King)