BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Hungary will push back the reopening of secondary schools by three weeks to May 10, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday, after teachers and students called for a delay for pandemic-related reasons.
Orban said he hoped 3.5 million of Hungary’s 10 million people would receive at least one coronavirus vaccine dose by April 19, allowing curbs to be eased further.
Hungary began a gradual reopening of shops and services on Wednesday after it inoculated 25% of its population in a move that, with hospitals still overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, the Hungarian Medical Chamber called premature.
Facing an election in 2022 and determined to avoid another year of recession, Orban is opening up the economy after accelerating vaccinations.
Hungary has imported the EU’s highest number of vaccine doses per capita though, according to Johns Hopkins University data, it leads the world in daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths per capita.
Orban’s top aide said on Thursday the government would open all schools on April 19. [nS8N2JJ02R]
But on Friday Orban said secondary schools would reopen on May 10. He did not mention primary schools.
By Friday, over 8,000 students signed up to a call on Facebook by a student group to stick to remote learning, saying teachers’ and parents’ lives were at risk.
On Thursday, in a letter posted on their Facebook page, the Teachers’ Democratic Trade Union said in-person teaching should not resume on April 19.
Orban told state radio 70% of the population could receive a vaccine shot by early June, allowing Euro 2020 fans “to have the possibility to attend the events with an immunity card.”
Budapest is one of 12 host cities of the soccer tournament, which starts in mid-June. Ticketing plans are to be announced next week.
(Reporting by Krisztina ThanEditing by David Goodman and John Stonestreet)