Sunday October 17th, 2021 11:54AM

Hungarian far-right party protests lockdown

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Demonstrators in Hungary’s capital broke a ban on public gatherings on Monday to demand an end to the country's lockdown restrictions, even as a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations sweeps the country.

The demonstration was organized by a far-right party, Mi Hazank Mozgalom (Our Homeland Movement), and joined by some 1,000 people.

The group broke through a police cordon and marched to Hungary's parliament in central Budapest. They demanded an end to pandemic restrictions that have been in effect for more than four months and have placed a heavy burden on the country's economy.

“They are inciting panic and using that to restrict our freedom, and Hungary is being ruined,” Our Homeland Movement co-chairman Laszlo Toroczkai said, reading aloud his party's demands for a lifting of restrictions that have been in place since Nov. 11.

The restrictions include an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, limiting of restaurants to delivery and take-out service, and remote learning for high school and university students.

An additional set of restrictions went into effect last week, including the mandatory closure of most shops and businesses, as well as a suspension until April 7 of in-school learning for kindergartens and primary schools.

“It’s all a big mess,” said Ferenc Szabo, a shopkeeper who had traveled from his home city of Sopron in western Hungary to join the march.

“Testing should be more widespread, the regulations on masks are overblown, but the most important thing is that we cannot work," Szabo said. "We are locked down.”

Hungary's service-oriented economy saw a 5.1% decline in GDP last year, and service workers have held several demonstrations in recent weeks demanding either an end to pandemic restrictions or more economic assistance from the state.

A survey published last week by Eurofound, a European Union agency, found that a smaller proportion of Hungarian workers received wage subsidies than in other country in the 27-member bloc.

Demonstrators’ demands for an end to the lockdown came as Hungary faces the highest levels of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the pandemic began one year ago. Last week, the average number of new cases and those being treated in hospitals shattered previous records set in December, and Hungary now has the 7th highest death rate per 1 million inhabitants in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Police had released a statement calling the demonstration “forbidden, irresponsible and dangerous,” and dispelled claims by organizers that it could be legally held if masks were worn and social distancing observed. Demonstrators gradually dispersed after police began checking identification documents.

The protest marked the March 15 national holiday, which celebrates the Hungarian revolution and war of independence of 1848, a national uprising against the ruling Austrian Habsburgs.

In a letter published by the Hungarian news agency, Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote that doctors, nurses, scientists and law enforcement workers who risk infection every day in their fight against the pandemic "are the heirs to the patriots.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Health, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
'Mank' leads Academy Awards nominations with 10 nods
David Fincher’s “Mank” has led nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards with 10 nods
10:00AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Hungarian far-right party protests lockdown
Around 1,000 demonstrators have broken a ban on public gatherings in Hungary's capital to demand an end to the country's lockdown restrictions
9:57AM ( 14 minutes ago )
After top Grammy win, singer H.E.R. is heading to the Oscars
A night after winning the top Grammy Award for songwriting, R&B singer H
9:31AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Facebook to label vaccine posts to combat COVID-19 misinfo
Facebook is adding informational labels to posts about vaccines as it expands efforts to counter COVID-19-related misinformation flourishing on its platforms
6:46AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Half of Italy’s regions under strict lockdown
Half of Italy’s regions have gone into the strictest form of lockdown in a bid to curb the latest spike in coronavirus infections that have brought COVID-19 hospital admissions beyond manageable thresholds
5:47AM ( 4 hours ago )
Denied benefits, Chinese single moms press for change
Sarah Gao, a single mom, has been to court three times since 2017 to try to get her maternity benefits
4:25AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Health
Vatican bars gay union blessing, says God 'can't bless sin'
The Vatican has decreed that the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions, saying that God “cannot bless sin.”
8:49AM ( 1 hour ago )
Group reports health facilities looted in Ethiopia's Tigray
Doctors Without Borders says health facilities have been “looted, vandalized and destroyed in a deliberate and widespread attack on health care” in Ethiopia’s embattled region of Tigray
8:25AM ( 1 hour ago )
Uganda's Bobi Wine arrested while protesting in the capital
Ugandan opposition figure Bobi Wine has been arrested while leading a protest in the capital, Kampala
8:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
What to do if you are a victim of unemployment fraud
Unemployment fraud in the U.S. has reached dramatic levels during the pandemic: more than $63 billion has been paid out improperly through fraud or errors since March 2020
9:03AM ( 1 hour ago )
Attacks on Chinese-run factories in Myanmar vex Beijing
Attacks on Chinese-run factories in Myanmar’s biggest city have drawn demands from Beijing for protection for their property and employees, while many in Myanmar expressed outrage over China’s apparent lack of concern for those killed in protests against last month's military coup
8:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Stripe raises $600M, company valued at $95B
The online payment company Stripe continues to attract investors, raising $600 million in funding to reach a whopping company valuation of $95 billion
8:01AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Asian shares mixed as China reports so-so economic data
Shares are mixed in Asia as China reported a variety of data that painted a complicated picture of its recovery from the pandemic
3:51AM ( 6 hours ago )
'Republic of Queues': 10 years on, Syria is a hungry nation
Syria is marking the 10th anniversary of the start of its conflict
2:55AM ( 7 hours ago )
Democrats bank on relief aid to win back wary working class
When President Franklin D
9:33AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Economy
'Mank' leads Academy Awards nominations with 10 nods
David Fincher’s “Mank” has led nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards with 10 nods
10:00AM ( 11 minutes ago )
After top Grammy win, singer H.E.R. is heading to the Oscars
A night after winning the top Grammy Award for songwriting, R&B singer H
9:31AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Chadwick Boseman is posthumously nominated for an Oscar
Half a year after his death, Chadwick Boseman was posthumously nominated for an Academy Award on Monday for his final performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
9:26AM ( 44 minutes ago )
The Latest: German ICU doctors call for tougher lockdown
Germany’s association of intensive care doctors is calling for a return to stricter lockdown measures as coronavirus cases in the country continue to rise
9:21AM ( 50 minutes ago )
EU takes legal action vs UK over Brexit deal delays
The European Union is starting legal action against the United Kingdom arguing London does not respect the conditions of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and is committing a violation of international law
9:15AM ( 55 minutes ago )