As of today, November 2nd, further tightening of restrictions have taken effect in Hungary in order to protect against the coronavirus epidemic, including wearing masks in restaurants. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán previously said “a new world is coming to Hungary,” but the measures introduced are still very slight restrictions compared to the those of neighboring countries and the total or partial lock-down introduced in more and more countries around Europe.
In addition to shops and public transport, cinemas, theaters, shopping malls, health and social care facilities, customer reception offices, outdoor events and sporting events, it was announced at the daily press conference of the operative board on Thursday that the government would extend the obligatory rule to wear a mask in hospitality and entertainment venues from Monday on. The government’s decision was reported by the Hungarian Gazette. Regarding the decision, Viktor Orbán said in his usual Friday morning radio interview that a “new world” would begin on Monday.
The decree published on Thursday states that wearing masks is mandatory at music and dance event venues, when working in a catering business, or in a restaurant as a guest. Masks can only be removed during the period of consumption of the food and drink purchased there.
Anyone who does not wear a mask at the request of a manager or employee of the establishment, will be excluded from service. If the commercial authority becomes aware of a breach of the mandatory mask rule during an inspection or after notifying the police, they will either issue a warning first, but they can also impose a fine between HUF 100,000 and HUF 1,000,000, or temporarily close the premises for a period of at least one day and a maximum of one year.
As opposed to during the previous rules, the authorities can now fine restaurants without warning them first, and even impose the fine and the temporary closing of the restaurant together. The regulation is also supplemented by the rule that the police are designated as commercial authorities who may carry out inspections and may also apply the above legal consequences.
Meanwhile, neighboring countries including Germany and France, have all introduced tougher measures. Shops were closed in Poland and the Czech Republic, and a curfew was enforced in Slovakia. In Austria, from Tuesday on, all events except professional sports (which will be held behind closed doors), will be banned. Theaters, museums, swimming pools, and gyms will be closed, and restaurants will only be able to take delivery orders. Also, a partial curfew will be introduced between 8 pm to 6 am.
Featured photo illustration by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI