Orbán said the operative board coordinating the response to the coronavirus crisis will make a decision on the future of a moratorium on loan repayments for businesses and households at a meeting on Saturday. The automatic opt-in moratorium, among the first measures the government took in the spring to ease the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis, is set to expire at the end of the year. “January 1 is coming soon, and what will happen afterward? We have to take a decision on that now, on whether to continue the repayment moratorium and on what parts to continue,” Orbán said. Commenting on economic figures, he said that 4.458 million people were employed in January and 4.513 million in August. Compared to the low point in April, there were 144,000 more jobholders in August, so “rather surprisingly, a labour shortage should be expected again”, he added. Orbán said it was a special problem in Budapest that the city’s tourism model was based almost entirely on foreigners. He called on the participants, including the municipality, to change this because otherwise people working in the sector will not have jobs. He said he expected the boom in domestic tourism to remain in 2021 and Budapest tourism based on foreigners to still suffer, which is why a special programme is needed for the capital.
Addressing the left-wing opposition parties, Orbán said that “if they can’t be counted on” they should “at least refrain from attacking epidemiologists”, arguing that doing so constituted an “attack on the country”. He said claims that there were not enough hospitals, doctors and ventilators to treat patients were “all lies and attacks”. The prime minister said that if the left urged people to observe the rules related to the pandemic and focused on dispelling people’s fears, the media would likely be less focused on publishing “sensationalist” stories on health care.
Orbán said protective measures were needed until a vaccine was available. He added that during recent talks, US President Donald Trump told him that a vaccine would be available in the US possibly by the end of October but no later than the end of the year, and Hungary would have access to it. “We will believe it when we see it,” Orbán said. The government is keeping an eye out on all ongoing research projects and Hungary is participating in a European project with over 2 billion forints (EUR 5.55m) extra contribution allocated for it, he added.