| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

Budapest residents drink spritzer by the Danube as COVID-19 rules ease

Budapest residents and a few number of tourists flocked to cafes lining the River Danube on Saturday for a drink outdoors in the sun, after the government decided that having inoculated over a third of the population it was time to lift some restrictions.

“We have been waiting for this moment when we can sit out again on a nice sunny day and have a drink for more than six months,” said local woman Bernadett. “This is fantastic.”

Next week, restaurants are slated to reopen indoors.

Nonetheless, some remain concerned as Hungary has racked up the world’s highest number of fatalities per capita in the global pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University, and has also had to endure 2 long lockdowns and a deep recession last year.

The central European country of 10 million has reported over 26,000 deaths and still has thousands in hospital and hundreds on ventilators.

Another Budapest resident, who identified herself as Bori, said she is eager to socialize but worried about the repercussions.

“I think for the time being it is not a good idea (to open), I would have waited with this,” she said. “Unfortunately this is what we have.”

The hospitality sector, which accounts for more than 10% of the country’s GDP, has been suffering under the pressure of lockdowns and having a full summer season ahead could save some businesses from bankruptcy.

Daniel Toos, who manages Kabin, a hip cafe in a leafy park under a railway bridge by the Danube, said he had struggled to find employees as people were wary of returning to the hospitality sector.

He added it had made him very happy to finally set out the outdoor chairs and tables.

  • Reuters