The Hungarian government is to permit private employers to require their staff to have the Covid vaccine as a condition for work. 

The decision comes at a time when the number of new Covid cases and fatalities in Hungary hits levels not seen since the surge in the pandemic last spring. 

Within a government news conference on Thursday, Gergely Gulyas, the prime minister's chief of staff said central government would also opt to require vaccinations for public employees. However, local municipality mayors can make a decision whether to enforce the requirement.

In addition, the wearing of face coverings on public transport will be compulsory as from Monday, whilst non-essential trips to public health care institutions will be prohibited, Gulyas went on to add.

As of Thursday, 4,039 Covid cases were registered in Hungary, the highest daily figure since the middle of April, and almost twice the number from last week. The number of daily fatalities also reached a high not seen since May, at 45.

The decision to make vaccinations a requirement in the workplace may lead to a boost in vaccination rates which have stayed flat for months amid growing scepticism.

Although vaccine supply is not an issue in Hungary, under 70% of the adult population has received one dose. This compares to the average in the European Union of 80%, as per figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

“Hungary is among the best in the Central Europe, but we don’t even reach the average in the European Union,” the PM’s chief of staff went on to add, stressing the importance of increasing vaccination rates amid the worsening pandemic.

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