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Hungary orders two-week lockdown to fight virus

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A woman with a face mask, worn by many people during the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, walks past a bus station on March 26, 2020 in Budapest. (Photo by ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday ordered a nationwide lockdown for two weeks to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We are introducing curfew restrictions throughout Hungary between March 28 and April 11,” he told public radio.

“For two weeks we can all leave our homes or places of residence only for work or for managing basic needs.”

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Exemptions include trips to shops and pharmacies for necessities, with infringements liable to police fines of up to 500,000 forints (1,400 euros, $1,550).

Shops will be open exclusively for those aged over 65 between 9 am and 12 noon to “separate youth from elderly in a bearable way,” said Orban.

The move is the latest in a series of government decrees including school closures introduced after a state of emergency was announced March 11.

Hungary closed its borders to non-nationals from March 17, which led to chaos for travellers and freight hauliers at border crossings and Budapest airport.

Parliament is set Tuesday to grant Orban sweeping powers of the decree until the government declares an end to the state of emergency.

Hungary, which has a population of almost 10 million, has so far recorded 300 infections from the virus and 10 deaths.

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