July 16, 2020 / 9:26 AM / 19 days ago

Hungary cancels Aug 20 national holiday celebrations due to pandemic

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary has cancelled celebrations and fireworks scheduled for the Aug. 20 national holiday due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said on Thursday.

Hungary lifted most of the restrictions it introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus in May. Concerts and festivals with crowds of more than 500 people will not be allowed until Aug. 15.

The celebrations on Aug. 20 normally attract tens of thousands of people in Budapest.

“The number of infected people has been continuously going down since the beginning of May,” Gulyas said.

“These measures we have introduced are good and we should not take risks.”

Gulyas said that the government would decide at the end of July whether to allow large events to be held from the second half of August.

Hungary announced new restrictions on cross-border travel on Sunday as virus case numbers rose in some neighbouring countries and in the Balkans. Active infections cases have been declining in Hungary since May.

As of Thursday, Hungary, which has a population of around 10 million, has recorded 4,279 cases of COVID-19 and 595 related deaths.

Reporting by Anita Komuves; Editing by Alison Williams and Hugh Lawson

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