Hungary to Close Borders Again Amid the Pandemic

Budapest

The Hungarian government has announced that it is closing its borders starting from September 1. It will be implementing the same policy it did during the first wave of the coronavirus crisis.

However, it is the first country within Europe’s free movement Schengen zone to reintroduce border restrictions after the reopening in past months.

The country has to close its borders as the number of coronavirus cases increases. And the ruling Fidesz party’s communications chief tested positive for COVID-19. Last week the country reported 132 new coronavirus cases on a daily basis. As compared to 52 new cases a week earlier.

However, minister Gergely Gulyás, who serves as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief of staff, said that there will be multiple exemptions to the ban on foreigners entering the country. The discussion on details was due for a  government meeting last Saturday. Hungary will maintain a corridor to allow transit through the country.

Quarantine on Arrival

Moreover, Hungarian citizens who will be returning back to the country will either have to self-isolate. Or they will have to provide two negative coronavirus tests. And they will have to cover the cost for all expenses and for non-essential traveling by themselves.

“Solidarity means common success,” said Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban in a statement.

“[But] you cannot be successful together if you are not successful one-by-one,” he added.

Increase in New Cases

However, the country had the highest number of new coronavirus infections on Sunday, with 292 cases. This is a figure more than the previous peak, on 10 April with 210 new daily infections.

In total, the country registered as of Monday a total of 6,139 coronavirus infections – with 1,763 active cases.

“The number of infections has increased and most of these originate from abroad,” said the chief of Orban’s cabinet, Gergely Gulyás, last week. He also said that the measures need to allow the new school year to start.

The EU Commission reiterated that its more nuanced advice on COVID-19 related restrictions has been in place since July.

“There is the need to replace blanket restrictions to free movement by more targeted measures which are limited in time or in geographical scope, meaning, for example, that you apply restrictions to visitors from specific areas only,” said Commission spokeswoman Vivian Loonela.

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