Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Hungarian authorities to indefinitely extend nationwide COVID-19 restrictions from April 9, review restrictions weekly.

This alert affects Hungary

This alert began 09 Apr 2020 20:23 GMT and is scheduled to expire 02 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventative restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Until at least April 25
  • Impact: Border closures, travel and business disruptions

Summary
Hungarian authorities announced on April 9 the indefinite extension of nationwide COVID-19 related restrictions; authorities will review the restrictions on a weekly basis. The government also announced that local authorities will be given permission to introduce stricter restrictions for the Easter Holidays, April 10-13. The government had previously announced a nationwide partial stay-at-home order from March 28. People will only be permitted to leave their accommodations for essential reasons, including for daily exercise, to travel to their place of work, or to obtain provisions or medicines.

Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open, but nonessential businesses, educational facilities, and most public locations are closed. Only persons over the age of 65 are permitted to visit shops between 0900-1200; persons younger than 65 are not permitted to visit shops during this time. Restaurants and bars are largely closed but are permitted to provide takeout services. Group gatherings are banned.

Hungary has reimposed checks on its land borders, and foreign nationals, excluding residents of the European Economic Area, are currently prohibited from entry to the country. The cross-border movement of freight vehicles is permitted. Any persons entering from areas with high COVID-19 activity are required to enter quarantine for 14 days.

Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport (BUD) remains open; foreign nationals are permitted to leave the country, though airlines are operating a significantly reduced service throughout Europe, and many governments have suspended or curtailed flight operations. Congestion is hence possible on available aircraft, and enhanced health screenings could prompt processing delays. Further service reductions, as well as airport closures, could be announced at short notice.

Officials could amend health and travel measures at short-notice in the coming weeks in response to government threat assessments.

Background and Analysis
Hungary's travel restrictions and preventive measures correspond with similar actions other governments are taking in the region 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.

Advice
Heed all official advisories and remain nonconfrontational if stopped by authorities. Reconfirm all travel arrangements if traveling to, from or via Serbia. Shipping disruptions may occur; consider delaying or rerouting shipments. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

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.

Resources
Hungarian Government COVID-19 Information: www.koronavirus.gov.hu
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int