Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Hungarian authorities continue to ease COVID-19 related restrictions May 29; significant travel and business disruptions remain.

This alert affects Hungary

This alert began 29 May 2020 12:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Hungarian authorities have eased COVID-19 restrictions in the capital, Budapest, as of May 29; hotels are permitted to reopen, and restaurants and cafes can resume indoor service. Furthermore, all shops and open public spaces are permitted to reopen, and open-air sporting and cultural events are permitted to resume. Reopenings are dependent on the observation of strict hygiene and social distancing requirements.

The following measures remain in place nationwide:

  • Facemasks must be worn in public spaces.
  • Indoor venues such as museums and theaters remain closed.
  • Most educational facilities remain closed.

Additionally, authorities have relaxed a number of international travel restrictions as of May 29. Citizens and residents of Hungary and Slovenia, and Hungary and Serbia, may travel between their two countries without restriction. Citizens and residents of Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia may travel without restriction between these three countries, provided they return to their home country within 48 hours. Citizens of Austria may enter the country without the need to self-isolate, provided they can provide a negative COVID-19 result from the previous four days. Citizens of Austria, Germany, Poland, and South Korea can enter the country for business purposes without the need to self-isolate. Most foreign nationals and non-residents not included above are currently barred from entry, though EEA residents can apply for an exemption prior to any travel; most arrivals must enter quarantine for 14 days. The restrictions do not apply to freight traffic.

Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport (BUD) remains open; foreign nationals are permitted to leave the country, though airline operations are significantly reduced throughout Europe. Many governments have suspended or curtailed flights. The demand for tickets on available flights is high, and enhanced health screenings could prompt processing delays at the airport. Further service reductions, as well as airport closures, could be announced at short notice.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by Hungarian authorities are similar to actions adopted by other governments in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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