BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – Protesters in the Hungarian capital broke a ban on public gatherings on Monday, demanding an end to the blockade, even as a large influx of COVID-19 և hospitalizations spread across the country.
The rally was organized by the far-right party, A Hazan Mozgalom (Our Homeland Movement), which was joined by about 1,000 people.
The group broke through the police chain and moved towards the Hungarian Parliament in the center of Budapest. They demanded an end to the epidemic restrictions, which have been in place for more than four months and have placed a heavy burden on the country’s economy.
“They are inciting panic, they are using it to restrict our freedom, Hungary is collapsing,” said Laszlo Torochkai, co-chair of the Our Homeland movement, reading aloud his party’s demands for the lifting of restrictions from November 11.
Restrictions include curfews from 8pm to 5am, restaurants restricted to delivery services, high school և distance learning for university students.
Additional restrictions came into force last week, including the mandatory closure of most shops and businesses, as well as the closure of kindergartens and primary schools until April 7.
“It’s a big mess,” said Ferenc Sabo, a shopkeeper who traveled from his hometown of Sopron, Hungary, to join the march.
“Testing should be more widespread, the rules on masks are overgrown, but the most important thing is that we can not work,” said Sabo. “We are closed.”
Hungary’s service-oriented economy shrank 5.1% of GDP last year, and service workers have staged several protests in recent weeks, demanding either an end to epidemic restrictions or more economic assistance from the state.
A survey published last week by the European Union’s Eurofound agency found that a smaller proportion of Hungarian workers receive a wage subsidy than in other 27-nation bloc countries.
The protesters demanded that the blockade be lifted as Hungary faced new COVID-19 cases ամեն the highest hospitalization rates since the epidemic began a year ago. Last week, according to the University of Hopkins University, the average number of new cases treated in hospitals broke the previous record set in December, with Hungary now having the 7th highest per capita rate.
Police spread that the demonstration was called “forbidden, irresponsible and dangerous” and dispelled the organizers’ claims that it can be held legally if wear masks, and maintain social distance. Police officers were gradually dispersed after police began checking identification documents.
The protest marked the national holiday of March 15, which marked the Hungarian Revolution ը the War of Independence of 1848, a national uprising against the ruling Austrian Habsburgs.
Prime Minister Viktor Orb :n wrote in a letter published by the Hungarian news agency that doctors, nurses, scientists and law enforcement officers who risk the infection every day in the fight against the epidemic are “the heirs of the patriots”.