Hungary closes borders as covid-19 cases spike

Hungary is to close its borders to all foreigners starting on Monday the 1st of September, the Minister heading the Hungarian cabinet has announced.

Gergely Gulyás has said that exceptions will be made for humanitarian missions, foreign diplomats, important business and military operations. 

Additionally, Hungarian citizens returning from overseas will be required to quarantine for up to 14-days, and will only be allowed to leave if they can test negative for covid-19 using two separate PCR tests. The government has urged its citizens against leaving the country unless absolutely necessary.

“No one should organise holidays abroad after September 1, in particular not to the Southern countries”, the Minister said in a press release.

“In most countries around Europe the situation is deteriorating. The epidemic situation is only stagnating in a few countries, and these trends have an impact on the Hungarian numbers at a delay of a few weeks, meaning that the easing of travel restrictions is out of the question,” he added.

Gulyás claimed in a recent press conference that the recent spike in infections was mainly as a result of inward travel from abroad, and that the new restrictions would be needed to keep schools open as the academic year begins next week. He noted that the reason for the initial lockdown was to prevent the health service from being overwhelmed by a sudden surge in cases, but that now the health sector was more prepared and therefore the school year could start as normal.

Hungary eased its initial lockdown measures back in May, and Gulyas has said that the nationalist government would like to avoid a second lockdown if possible. 

These measures may complicate the impending European Super Cup match that is due to take place between teams Bayern and Sevilla next month in the Puskas Arena, located in Hungary’s capital of Budapest. 

While the stadium’s maximum capacity is over 67,000, it was originally agreed by the UEFA executive committee that only 30% of seats (around 20,000) could be allocated for fans, in keeping with social distancing guidelines, and that 3,000 of those would be flying in from abroad. However, it’s unclear how this will be impacted by the newly announced travel restrictions.

Gulyás has said that the Hungarian government is in talks with UEFA leadership about what options are available. In particular, one scenario is being considered where overseas fans who produce two negative covid test results are transported directly to the stadium from the airport, and then back when the match is finished. Fans’ temperature would also be taken before entering the stadium.

The Hungarian government has claimed that, once an effective vaccine for covid-19 is available, they will immediately be putting in an order for it, with a goal of making it affordable to all citizens.

To date, Hungary has a total of 5,669 covid-19 cases and 614 deaths.



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