Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Hungary to implement new three-tier system of coronavirus-related entry restrictions beginning 0001 July 15.
- Alert Begins: 13 Jul 2020 12:01 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 27 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel and business disruptions
Beginning 0001 July 15, the Hungarian government will implement a new three-tier classification system as part of its process for restricting incoming travel in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the new system, health officials have organized various foreign countries and applicable entry restrictions into three color-coded categories based on their COVID-19 risk severity. The classifications are:
- Green (Low Risk): This category includes most countries in the European Union, except where stipulated otherwise. Travelers from "green" countries are permitted to enter Hungary without restriction.
- Yellow (Moderate Risk): This category includes Bulgaria, China, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, the UK, and the US. Travelers entering Hungary from "yellow" countries will undergo medical screenings at the border and be quarantined for 14 days. Exceptions to the health checks and quarantine may be made for travelers who can produce proof of having taken two negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests at least 48 hours apart within the previous five days with negative results.
- Red (High Risk): This category includes Albania, Australia, Bosnia, Belarus, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Ukraine; it also includes all countries on the African continent, as well as all countries in Asia and Oceania, except for China and Japan. Hungarian nationals from "red" countries will undergo medical screenings at the border and be quarantined for 14 days. Foreign nationals are prohibited from entering Hungary from "red" countries.
The regulations do not apply to freight transporters or travelers who are transiting Hungary.
Authorities plan to closely monitor disease activity and make adjustments to how individual countries are categorized on at least a weekly basis.
Government officials had previously removed border restrictions with Schengen Area countries. Budapest Ferenc Liszt (BUD) and Debrecen (DEB) airports remain open, though airline operations are significantly reduced throughout Europe. Many airlines 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.
Most activities have been permitted to resume and businesses allowed to reopen, provided strict hygiene and social distancing measures are implemented and followed. Protective face coverings remain mandatory on public transport and in enclosed public spaces. Mass gatherings in Hungary have been are prohibited until at least mid-August.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Background and Analysis
Hungary's new system has been implemented out of an abundance of caution despite the nation's decrease in confirmed COVID-19 cases. The government in Budapest remains concerned over the potential for spikes in disease activity resulting from imported cases.
The measures taken by Hungarian authorities are similar to those adopted by other governments 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.
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.