Free pizza, free housing: Hungarians are responding to the crisis with acts of kindness

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Milan Varga saved for three years so he could open his small pizzeria in Budapest last Monday. On Tuesday, his customers all but disappeared as the streets emptied due to the coronavirus outbreak.

With plenty of ingredients in stock, Varga quickly changed his plans and joined a growing number of Hungarians who responded to the crisis with acts of kindness. He now delivers free pizza to seniors who have to isolate themselves at home.

“If I can’t sell pizza, at least I can help those who need it by giving them free pizza if they voluntarily self-quarantine, and so I try to take care of them and m make sure they stay home,” the 20-year-old said. old said.

Varga now delivers half of its daily pizza production for free.

As the central European country has closed its borders to foreign citizens and closed schools to contain the spread of the coronavirus, more and more Hungarians have decided to help the elderly and vulnerable, as well as healthcare workers. who will bear the brunt of the crisis.

Members of the Facebook group “Budapest Airbnb community for the health workers”, which now has more than 1,200 members, offer their apartments to nurses and other health workers who want to self-isolate to protect their families. Budapest had more than 10,000 Airbnb apartments before the crisis hit, and the business collapsed overnight as tourists disappeared.

“We believe that those who can should help those who do the real work with actions, with money, with kind words – we have no idea from the four walls at home about the difficulties that agents of health are going through right now,” said Viktoria Hojer-Szabo, owner of three Airbnb apartments in Budapest.

A Budapest Central Hospital nurse treating coronavirus patients now lives in one of her apartments. So far, 43 healthcare workers have moved into vacant Airbnb apartments.

On Lake Balaton, Hungary’s main summer holiday destination, Gergely Toth, manager of the Sunshine Hotel in the town of Siofok, offered hotel rooms to Hungarians who returned from work abroad and had to quarantine for two weeks.

Many people employed on Lake Balaton during the summer work abroad during the winter season. There are 39 people in the hotel now, which gives them free meals.

“I… assumed they wouldn’t be able to afford to isolate themselves from their families here,” Toth said.

Reporting by Krisztina Fenyo, writing by Krisztina Than; Editing by Giles Elgood

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