We Hungarians in Transylvania, as well as the whole world, are going through very difficult times. We have never ever experienced an Easter like this. People usually go to church on Palm Sunday and on Easter Sunday. This year, COVID-19 has put an end to centuries-old habits. The streets are empty, not because people are away for Easter holiday, but because they are under a curfew. And if we look at the figures, we can understand why most people are respecting the rules established by the government.
After a month of curfew, the number of people infected with coronavirus is constantly growing, and the number of deaths, too.
The truth is that many Romanians who work abroad came home in this period, and although they came from the red zones, they never declared it. This is the reason why the number of people in home isolation and in institutionalized quarantine is fairly low.
We are still not at the peak of the infection, and this is the reason why the curfew will be extended for another 30 days, until the 15th of May.
It is quite difficult to live under these kinds of circumstances. Only people whose daily job can not be done online are allowed to go to work. Furthermore, you can do physical exercise or walk your dog only around your home, you can not meet your friends or relatives, and people over 65 can leave their homes only between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Children and younger people are staying at home; schools and universities have been closed. And now these measures are prolonged for yet another 30 days.
What can the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (also known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ) do during these difficult times? First of all, we support our community by informing them continuously about the latest decisions, rules and regulations of the government in Hungarian. We also ask specialists and doctors to give advice to our community. Second of all, we work in parliamentary groups to propose government measures that would not only protect the citizens of the country but also their families and workplaces, as over 1 million people have lost their jobs temporarily or have become unemployed. Thirdly, our 200 mayors, apart from performing their official duties to stop the spread of the virus, are helping – together with NGOs and volunteers – the elderly and those in need procure food and medicine. It is a solidarity that we have never experienced before. And last, but not least, we also seek help for our hospitals, family doctors and retirement homes that are missing all necessary, basic equipment and tools to fight the pandemic. We have asked for and have received a sizable donation of masks, overalls, disinfectants and gloves from the Hungarian government, which was distributed all around Transylvania. It is a wonderful feeling to know that we can count on each other in this hour of need.
The historic Hungarian churches here have also taken an unprecedented steps to protect believers. Unlike some Orthodox priests who served the holy sacrament with the same spoon to the whole congregation, despite rules forbidding people to even gather, our churches asked congregations to not go to church and to stay at home. Our churches are empty, and the priests are streaming prayers and religious services online. Even Easter Sunday was celebrated online. However, the traditional blessing of food was done quite ingeniously in some places: Families stood outside on their porches with baskets of food covered by beautiful, traditional textiles, and the priest, who came by in an open-top car, blessed the food, maintaining all the rules and regulations of social distancing. For me, this was probably the most reassuring moment of this curfew and during the whole pandemic: We respect the rules, but we find ways of keeping our traditions and living by the rules that are important to us. It is the best way to show that we are a strong community, and we will get through this, together.
Hopefully these difficult times will be over soon, but we will always remember the great acts of solidarity and care that we experienced and took part in as well.
(The author is the spokeswoman for RMDSZ)