On Monday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced new restrictions, saying that “in our experience, the course of the epidemic in Hungary follows the Austrians with a delay of one or two weeks. (…) we are therefore introducing measures similar to those in Austria.” But what are the differences between the two countries in the new, more stringent measures? And in which terms is Austria, which the Prime Minister calls the country’s “laboratory,” stricter, and in what respect is Hungary? Analysis.
Vienna tightened epidemiological restrictions last Tuesday, while the Hngarian government waited until Tuesday of this week, although the epidemic situation in Hungary is not less severe than in Austria, to say at least.
The biggest restriction, the night curfew, is similar in both countries. However, while it is not possible to be outside in our western neighbor from 8 pm to 6 am, with certain exceptions, such as work, the night curfew in Hungary ends at 5 am. Evening or night visits to other people’s homes are prohibited in Austria, while the Hungarian restrictions do not state whether people can visit others or not.
In Austria, it is mandatory to keep a distance of one meter in public spaces and from those living in other households, and to wear a mask indoors. In Hungary, the Prime Minister announced last night that it is also mandatory to wear a mask in certain public spaces from midnight in settlements larger than 10,000 people, which are designated by the local mayors.
In the field of public transport, Austrian restrictions are in line with the rules already introduced in Hungary. Masks are mandatory on vehicles and at stops, as well as in taxis. In principle, the 1.5 meter minimum distance is also mandatory, but the Austrian information portal also notes that certain circumstances may override this.
Restaurants, bars, cafés, and entertainment venues are also closed in Austria, just as in Hungary. An exception to this rule is canteens in the social sector. Hotels are also closed, not only for foreign but also Austrian guests, unless they are accommodating guests for business or study purposes. The situation is the same in Hungary.
The concept of a fifty-person allowance for various cultural and social events used in Hungary also comes from our western neighbor. At the same time, Vienna is somewhat more tolerant of professional sports events, while in Hungary only closed door matches can be held. However, religious denominations in both countries are free to determine whether to continue to hold religious ceremonies live (except for weddings and funerals, which are limited).
Funerals are only allowed with a maximum of 50 participants, while weddings can only be held without a wedding party, and only with the participation of close family. Private family events can be held in much the same way as in Hungary: in Austria, with the participation of two households (6 adults, 6 children), while up to 10 people in Hungary.
Until now, the opening hours of stores have been stricter in Hungary, as everything has to close at seven, while they could stay open at our western neighbor for longer hours. This week, however, Austria also tightened the rules and stores will also close at 7 p.m.
According to news portals, the Viennese government is much more supportive of working from home than its Hungarian counterpart. With a few exceptions, public employees all work in home office, but the government also encourages the corporate sector to introduce working from home. A distance of at least one meter must be ensured when working in offices.
Just like in Hungary, kindergartens in Austria are open and lower grades of secondary school can also remain open. However, secondary schools, vocational secondary schools, and higher education institutions have already switched to digital education. In Hungary, schools switched to digital education from the 9th grade, and in universities.
Gyms and all indoor sports facilities are also closed in both countries. At the same time, people can train outdoors with a minimum distance of one meter, and the parks are also open. Cultural institutions, theaters, cinemas, museums are all closed. However, while libraries are open in Austria, they are closed in Hungary.
Vienna has tightened epidemiological restrictions since Tuesday of last week. The local press has been monitoring the statistics ever since, and so far neither the number of illnesses nor the number of deaths are very encouraging. In the last six days, the number of new cases has increased by almost 35,000, while a total of 1,564 people have died of the virus in Austria so far. Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said on Saturday that if the numbers do not fall drastically, even tougher measures will be needed.
Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Máthé/MTI