UPDATE 1-Hungary to start lifting lockdown in Budapest from Monday - PM Orban

BUDAPEST, May 16 (Reuters) - Hungary will gradually lift coronavirus restrictions in Budapest from Monday, two weeks after it ended the lockdown in the rest of the country, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Saturday.

“It has become clear that we have managed to curb the epidemic in Budapest as well,” Orban said in a video on his official Facebook page.

“Therefore, we can shift to the second phase of defence in Budapest as well, cautiously ... and thus we lift the lockdown.”

Two weeks ago the government lifted some restrictions outside Budapest and its outskirts, allowing shops and restaurant terraces to reopen without time limits.

Open-air swimming pools were also permitted to reopen but the wearing of masks or face-coverings remained mandatory in shops and on public transport.

Restrictions have remained in place in the capital, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections.

Schools remain closed at least until the end of May nationwide.

A phased reopening is the government’s strategy to head off deeper and more lasting harm to the economy, which is expected to shrink by about 4% this year based on a Reuters survey.

As of Saturday, Hungary has reported 448 deaths among a total of 3,473 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Some 1,655 of the infections were in Budapest. (Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Pravin Char and Christina Fincher)