In an interview published on Tuesday, the minister said the government took mathematical and epidemiological modelling into consideration during its decision-making, which has given rise to a “staggered” system of controls. This means “pulling back and letting go” when it comes to restrictions.
Three basic criteria determine this mechanism: the spread of the virus and the parallel of how many patients need hospital treatment; the state of the economy; and the quality of social and community life, he said.
Various restrictions have been introduced to slow down the spread of the epidemic by drastically reducing physical contact, with a view to increasing hospital capacity and purchasing protective equipment, he noted. This, he said, was the “pull” phase. But the corresponding impact of the economy and the suffocation of community life is unsustainable, so a “let go” phase is planned for next week, he said. Gradually, restrictions will be eased based on a strict schedule, and the life of the nation and its economy can begin to be restored, he added.
As personal contacts intensify, the number of infected is expected to increase. “But we are ready to care for them properly.” Should the epidemic cross a defined threshold, the “pull” policy will be reintroduced to slow down the spread of the virus once again, Palkovics said.
The minister said the hard part of decision-making was ahead of the government: how to gauge optimal intervention and apply the “pull, let go” mechanism. “We have control, regulation and intervention tools in place, and measurements of the virus’s transmission. It’s not easy to keep the epidemic on a level; we’ve achieved with total repression. But now we must fine-tune the restrictions so the economy and people [can recover] while keeping the virus at bay.”
The government is continually analysing the state of the economy and consulting with economic players, he said. In some sectors such as tourism, life has come to a virtual standstill, and here it would be right to speak in terms of a complete relaunch, he said. The state of manufacturing and agriculture is less onerous. Car manufacturers and their suppliers are retooling and in many sectors and places, work has not stopped. “I think industrial production will recover faster than many people think,” Palkovics said.