Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Hungary to maintain COVID-19-related ban on most non-EEA travelers from July 1 despite EU recommendation; significant disruptions remain.

  • Alert Begins: 03 Jul 2020 01:14 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 21 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Hungary are maintaining the ban on non-EU citizens and residents from entering the country beyond July 1 despite a European Council recommendation that travel resume with 15 non-EU countries from this date. Exceptions are made for travelers from Serbia, family members of EEA citizens, business travelers from Japan and South Korea, individuals transiting through Hungary, freight workers, and for limited exceptional reasons which must be applied for on the Hungarian Police website prior to travel. UK citizens are currently being treated as non-EU citizens by Hungarian authorities when considering entry restrictions.

Authorities previously removed border restrictions with Schengen Area countries as of June 9. Budapest Ferenc Liszt (BUD) and Debrecen (DEB) airports are 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.

As of June 18, authorities have permitted most activities and businesses to resume provided strict hygiene and social distancing requirements are followed. Protective masks remain mandatory on public transport and in enclosed public spaces. Mass gatherings are prohibited until at least Aug. 15.

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
As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

The measures taken by Hungarian authorities are similar to actions 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.

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