Yesterday, borders were officially closed in Hungary and police started to check the foreign borders. However, the changeover did not go smoothly- there were long queues and waiting times at the borders, and many border crossings were not achieved.
At present, foreigners are not allowed to enter the country, only with certain exceptions and the exception of Czech, Polish, and Slovak citizens who have booked accommodation in Hungary before September 1st. Hungarians returning from abroad will have to self-quarantine for 14 days, or until they produce two negative tests taken two days apart (in the case of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia, only one test is needed). Foreign nationals with permanent Hungarian residency (and their close family members) as well as those who hold a permit of stay for more than 90 days are treated the same way as Hungarian citizens.
Long queues and wait times on the first day
Border control was difficult in many places yesterday with long queues quickly developing, and increased waiting times. According to Hungarian newspaper Új Szó in Slovakia, at the Komarno-Komárom border crossing, the traffic jam reached the Slovakian part of the border almost to the middle of the city, so the Hungarian police temporarily did not even ask for official forms (proving how long someone would be in the country for and where exactly they were going) from those coming from Slovakia. They were allowed in after a few questions. At Esztergom, the cars were only randomly checked after a while, and after the morning traffic jam, the police were given the order to admit those arriving from Párkány (Sturovo) with only an identity card without a time limit. According to the newspaper, for the time being, international trains will also run on the Hungarian-Slovak border without restrictions.
Crossing borders becomes harder for commuters
On his official Facebook page, independent MP János Bencsik drew attention to the fact that although technically since Tuesday, people living in the 30-kilometer border zone can travel from neighboring countries without restrictions, “this is not the case in practice. Of the 23 road border crossings between Hungary and Slovakia, only six were in operation yesterday, as a result of which a resident of Nagymegyer had to drive 160 km every day instead of 30, and 200 km instead of 40 from Dunaszerdahely in order to get to a workplace in Győr, for example.”
Miközben a szlovák turistákat tárt karokkal várjuk, a felvidéki magyar ingázók nem tudnak bejárni a munkahelyükre❗
Posted by Bencsik János on Tuesday, 1 September 2020
According to today’s information from police.hu, there are currently seven border crossings open between Slovakia and Hungary, in one place (Rajka), people have to wait more than a quarter of an hour. According to Bencsik, the problem is not unique: in the case of Serbia, police.hu also reported several hours of waiting time in the direction of Hungary at the Röszke and Horgos border crossings, as well as in the direction of Ukraine and Romania. He wrote that for most commuters, it was completely impossible to get to work or school in time due to the lack of border crossings and the long waiting times.
Belgium classifies Hungary as “red”
Belgium has declared Hungary a red country due to the level of the coronavirus epidemic, which according to information published on the Belgian Foreign Ministry’s website on Tuesday, means that non-essential travel to Hungary is not allowed. In addition to Hungary, the red list of Belgium includes some regions of Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Spain, and Great Britain, as well as Denmark, Finland, Malta, and Romania. At the same time, it is possible to enter the country from Hungary without quarantine and COVID-19 tests, so Belgians can return home without special measures.
UEFA Super Cup in Hungary at risk?
As we previously reported, Budapest’s Puskás Aréna will host the UEFA Super Cup final on September 24, 2020. However, due to the Hungarian government closing the countries borders yesterday, according to the German magazine Kicker, the organization rights of the European Super Cup match is now in question.
With Bayern München winning the 2019-2020 Champions League season and Sevilla triumphing in the Europa League, these two teams will play for the European Super Cup. Hungary announced that in addition to the Hungarian audience, 3,000 football fans each from FC Sevilla and Bayern München will also be able to see the match in person.
For the time being, PMO Head Gergely Gulyás only speculated on potential exceptional rules for the foreign spectators, as the Operative Board is still finalizing the measures. Gulyás said that “we can imagine that if we can really hold the European Super Cup final under the current rules – and Bayern München and Sevilla are both given three-three thousand tickets by UEFA, for a total of 6,000 foreign fans – they would have to arrive at the airport with 2 negative tests, from where we take them straight to the stadium and then back to the airport.”
According to Jenő Sipos, a spokesman for the Hungarian Football Association, negotiations are currently underway with UEFA and the Hungarian government on the Super Cup. For the time being, it seems that the Super Cup match can be held in front of spectators in the Puskás Arena.
featured photo: Zoltán Máthé/MTI