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ORBÁN: HEALTH-CARE STAFF TO BE VACCINATED FIRST

 

Health-care staff will be the first to be vaccinated with the coronavirus vaccine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public broadcaster Kossuth Rádió. Orbán said as many vaccines as possible should be made available. “This should not be made into a political issue.” Vaccinations will be voluntary and people can decide which vaccine “to trust”, he said. The prime minister also said that a total of 400 undergraduate students have been mobilised – and provided accommodation and meals – to drive medics to carry out tests. He also noted that 500 secondary schools have switched to teaching online and 208 kindergartens have shuttered. Online learning is taking place for 239 primary schools.
Meanwhile, temporary subsidies are in place to help businesses such as hotels and restaurants that are severely affected by the restrictions, he said. The prime minister said the government was sticking to its policy of invigorating the “work-based economy”, ensuring that businesses can retain their workforce and make new hires. Commenting on a proposal to suspend business and corporate tax, Orbán said such a move would be going too far and “we need to get the proportion right”, adding that the taxes must be reduced, however, in order to preserve jobs. He added that the government was committed to making “significant” tax cuts next year.
On the subject of making EU funding contingent of meeting certain rule-of-law criteria, the prime minister said he spoke with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday and she told him that “Hungarian money cannot be taken away”. “The money will be there, the economy will function, and developments will get under way.” Orbán added that the draft regulations under the German EU presidency “isn’t really about the law but about politics”. He said he had told Merkel that if the rule-of-law agreement made it into law, “we would turn the European Union into the Soviet Union” in which conditions were imposed from above “in the absence of any objective criteria”, while “a committee holds people accountable on ideological grounds”. “We should really be talking about the epidemic and giving immediate help to troubled southern states,” he said. Addressing the issue of the European Commission’s LGBTQ strategy, the prime minister said: “I wouldn’t say this is needless; there should be such working groups”. He added, however, that the timing was not right and decision-makers needed more time to evaluate the proposals. Meanwhile, Orbán praised Hungary’s national eleven for its win against Iceland. “We can be proud of our sons,” he said, adding that it was not “just a football match” but “a fight”. Defeating the Vikings in battle “is a big deal”, the prime minister said.