Yesterday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that Hungary will close its borders for all passenger transport. The measure is effective from midnight until further notice. Although the borders will be closed, Hungarian citizens and their family members can enter the country and Liszt Ferenc International Airport remains open as well.
UPDATED Coronavirus – Orbán: Hungary Closes Borders for All Passenger Transport, Gov’t Bans All Events
The government decree prohibiting foreign citizens from entering Hungary came into effect today, on Tuesday March 17th. Although the borders are closed to foreigners, Liszt Ferenc International Airport is still operating, and will continue to welcome and launch flights, and Hungarian citizens are allowed to enter the country via air travel. Anyone, Hungarians and foreigners alike, are free to depart from the airport in the coming days. To ensure a seamless process, all flights will arrive at Terminal 2B. However, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, the number of suspended or canceled flights are changing constantly. Therefore, the airport advises passengers to check flight information before traveling.
According to airport information, the travel documents of all arriving passengers are checked at Budapest Airport. Following this inspection, only Hungarian citizens are permitted to enter Hungary. In the case of families traveling together, if at least one of the parties is a Hungarian citizen, the foreign family member (child, parent, grandparent, husband or wife) is permitted to enter Hungary.
Foreign nationals coming from an EEA country (EU, Switzerland, Norway) who hold permanent residency and who prove their right by a permanent residence card will be treated in the same way as Hungarian citizens.
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Foreign citizens will be turned away by the authorities, and they must wait in the designated transit area until departure. Budapest Airport provides blankets, food, mineral water and, upon request, face masks for passengers waiting in the transit area. Passengers are also able to board connecting flights at the airport.
The requirement that Hungarian citizens arriving home from South Korea, Iran, Israel, China, and Italy must undergo mandatory medical screening upon entry to the country remains in force. Those who are suspected of being infected with coronavirus by the medical examination will be placed in designated quarantine facilities (such as hospital quarantine). Otherwise, those who arrive from the aforementioned countries are subject to official home quarantine, even if they show no symptoms of coronavirus.
Passenger rail services between Hungary and Austria and between Hungary and Ukraine have also been suspended, Hungarian rail company MÁV said on Tuesday. Yesterday, the company also announced that trains will not cross the Hungarian borders with Croatia and Slovenia. MÁV is offering a total refund for all international tickets, regardless of destination.
Coronavirus: Passenger Rail Travel Suspended between Hungary-Austria, Hungary-Ukraine
Hungary also closed its vehicular borders, as the restriction relates to all road, railway, water, and air borders. The same rules apply as in the airport, so Hungarian nationals can enter the country.
However, according to Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, Hungary still allows freight traffic headed for Hungary as “they bring goods and provide important services for Hungarians.” Trucks heading to neighboring countries are restricted to specific motorways, and obliged to use specific fuel stations. Szijjártó added that the ban on non-Hungarians from entering the country helps protect Hungarians’ health as well as that of citizens of neighboring countries.
featured photo: MTI/Filep István