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Coronavirus: Loan payments suspended in Hungary until the end of the year

2020.03.18. 16:30

All loan repayments are suspended until the end of the year, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Facebook following some technical difficultiesalong with a number of economic measures taken in preparation for the imminent effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Besides the epidemiological and healthcare aspects of the pandemic, now it is time to make decisions about the economy, Viktor Orbán said in his video message on Facebook, before announcing the following measures:

  • Loan payments are suspended until the end of the year for all private individuals and businesses who took loans out before today,
  • Short-term business loans are prolonged until 30 July,
  • Starting from Thursday, the annual percentage rate of all new consumer loans will be limited at the Central Bank's base interest rate plus five percentage points.
  • Sectors that were severely hit by the pandemic (tourism, restaurants, entertainment venues, sports, cultural services, transportation) will be exempted from paying social security contributions.
  • Employment regulations will be made more flexible to facilitate agreements between employees and employers in the current situation.

Update: The government decree was released shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

The coronavirus situation in Hungary

Hungary closed borders to all foreigners except for residence permit-holding EEA citizens and spouses and parents of Hungarian citizens on Monday after declaring a state of emergency last WednesdayAs of Monday morning, universities and schools are closed, education will continue remotely. All events are banned, cafes, restaurants, non-essential stores have to close at 3:00 PM each day (pharmacies, drug stores, grocery stores, tobacco stores, and gas stations can remain open longer). Hospitals in Hungary no longer accept visitors since last Sunday, doctors, medical staff, and public officials require special permits to travel abroad. Last Monday, the government has allocated more than 8 billion Forints (~€24 million) for the coronavirus response. 

During his interview on public radio on Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said "foreigners dragged this disease into the country," and previously, he told European leaders during a teleconference that "there is an obvious link between the coronavirus and illegal immigration." Earlier, the government suspended access to the transit zones on the southern border where asylum-seekers could apply for refugee status.

The first Hungarian citizen to contract Covid-19 was a man who worked on the cruise ship Diamond Princess was confirmed to have the disease at the end of February and was treated in Japan. He reportedly recovered, testing negative last Thursday.

Click here to find all our English coverage about the coronavirus situation in Hungary.

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