April 30, 2020 / 9:25 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Hungarian schools to remain closed until end of May - government

(Adds comments, details)

By Anita Komuves and Krisztina Than

BUDAPEST, April 30 (Reuters) - Schools in Hungary will remain closed until the end of May and events with more than 500 participants cannot be held until Aug. 15, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said on Thursday.

Orban announced late on Wednesday that, outside Budapest, some restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak would be lifted starting next week, when shops and restaurant terraces would be allowed to reopen without time limits.

But existing strict restrictions will continue for now in the capital, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths.

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.

Gulyas told a news conference that written graduation exams would be held nationwide from Monday onwards for tens of thousands of secondary school students, with safety measures in place.

“With a maximum 10 students in a room, keeping a safe distance, with the smallest possible risk the exams can be held...as it is in everybody’s interests that students should be able to continue their studies (at universities),” Gulyas said.

As of Thursday, Hungary had reported 312 deaths among a total of 2,775 cases of COVID-19, the lung disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Gulyas said about 70% of infected people were in Budapest. (Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)

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