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Government announces new Covid restrictions

November 1st, 2021

A left-wing commentator criticizes the government for not making vaccination mandatory. Union leaders, on the other hand, fear for workers’ rights, as employers will be authorized to make work conditional on green passes. A pro-government pundit finds left-wing critics irresponsible.

On Thursday, the government announced new restrictions to contain the fourth wave of the coronavirus epidemic. Most importantly, the government granted employers the right to compel employees to get vaccinated. Employees who refuse can be sent on unpaid leave. In addition, mask wearing will be reintroduced on public transport and in many public institutions from 1 November. Hungary was among the first countries to vaccinate 60 per cent of its adult population, but that number has only increased slowly since June.

In Népszava, András Boda lambasts the government for empowering employers to demand green passes from their employees. By granting the right to suspend unvaccinated staff, the left-wing commentator contends, the government is acknowledging that vaccination is crucial, yet it nonetheless recoils from making it mandatory, and instead, shifts the responsibility onto employers. Boda accuses the government of putting its political interest before considerations of health.

Quoting trade union representatives and labour law experts in a separate article, Népszava suggests that the government’s regulations may well turn out to be discriminatory and in violation of workers’ rights. In the absence of very specific guidelines, employers can make vaccination mandatory for their workers even in the absence of a real health hazard, Népszava writes. As a result, employees unwilling to take the jab will be sent on unpaid leave and will lose their income. Népszava adds that if the police introduces mandatory vaccination, many police officers may quit their jobs.

Magyar Hírlap’s Pál Dippold finds such left-liberal criticism of the new regulations absurd and ideologically motivated. The pro-government commentator thinks that the same left-wing and liberal pundits who vocally criticized Russian and Chinese vaccines want to hinder the government’s efforts to contain the fourth wave of the coronavirus by claiming that mandatory vaccination violates individual freedom. Dippold thinks that such suggestions are not only irresponsible but ‘idiotic’ as well.