BUDAPEST — Officials in Hungary will loosen pandemic lockdown restrictions despite daily COVID-19 deaths breaking previous records for the fifth time this week.
New daily cases in Hungary reached 11,265 on Friday, breaking a record set less than a week ago. A new high of 275 deaths was recorded in the country of fewer than 10 million inhabitants. The surge has given Hungary the highest per capita death rate in the world in the last two weeks.
“We are living through the most difficult weeks of the pandemic,” Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, said in a radio interview Friday morning as he announced the numbers.
Hungarian officials nevertheless are loosening lockdown restrictions currently in place. In the Friday interview, Orban announced that non-grocery shops, which are currently closed, will be allowed to reopen with area-based maximum capacity limits.
Store opening hours will be extended by two hours to 9 p.m., and a night time curfew beginning at 8 p.m., in place since Nov. 11, will be extended to 10 or 11 p.m., Orban said.
As of Friday, 1.8 million people had received at least a first dose of a vaccine, giving Hungary the second-highest vaccination rate in the European Union.