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Coronavirus: New Protective Measures Come into Effect from Monday

Fanni Kaszás 2020.09.21.

From today on, the new protection measures announced after last Wednesday’s government meeting came into effect. Now, in addition to shops and public transport, mask-wearing will be made mandatory in shopping malls, cinemas, theaters, health and social institutions and public offices, while clubs will have to close by 11pm to curb the spread of the virus. All details of the restrictions are contained in government decrees published in the Hungarian Gazette.

From Monday, therefore, proper mask-wearing will no longer be mandatory not only on public transport and in shops, but also in public areas of shopping malls, cinemas, theaters, museums, libraries, as well as in health and social institutions, public service and postal customer services. Proper mask wear means that the mask should also cover the mouth and nose. Another important change is that people actually have to wear a mask, it is not enough to cover their mouth with a scarf or shawl, for example.

From September 21, the use of the mask will also be mandatory not only on public transport, but also in the stations and bus stops where the passenger is waiting, MÁV-Start announced on its website. The regulation applies to all passengers over the age of six. MÁV and Volánbusz will exclude all passengers who do not wear a mask covering their nose and mouth in the manner prescribed by the decree.

Failure to comply with the mask obligation will result in more severe sanctions. Those who do not wear a mask can be excluded from public transport, and will also be fined with up to HUF 50,000 (EUR 137). The penalty can be even harsher if the person concerned disrupts public transport in the absence of cooperation, in which case police action can be taken against them and they can potentially be detained.

The rules regarding the obligation to wear a mask – in the case of shops, cinemas and shopping centers –  will be checked by the commercial authority, in all other places by the government office, and by the police at any location. Adherence to the mask policy is also the responsibility of cinema operators, shops and shopping centers. If the operator detects that someone is not wearing a mask, the offender may be asked to wear a mask. If he or she still does not wear a mask, he or she must be asked to leave and service may be denied.

The operator can only be penalized if he does nothing against the offense. In this case, the commercial authority may impose a sanction on the business in several stages during the inspection or on the basis of a notification to the police. The first time it applies a warning, the second time it imposes a fine of HUF 100,000 to HUF 1,000,000 (EUR 276 – 2756), the third time it can temporarily close the shop or the venue for a period of at least 3 days and a maximum of one year.

From Monday, restaurants and entertainment venues can only be open until 23:00, and the 500-person limit will continue to apply. A music or dance event held indoors or in a non-enclosed space, regardless of its public or non-public nature, and its occasional or regular nature, may be held if the number of people present at the event venue, including those employed there, does not exceed 500 people and only lasts till 11 pm.

The official price of HUF 19,500 (EUR 54) for cost-effective PCR tests will also come into force today. According to the official coronavirus information website, almost 600,000 PCR tests have been performed in Hungary up to today, most of them completely free of charge, at the expense of the state. For potential coronavirus infections, PCR tests ordered by the GP, hospitals or epidemiological authority are still free. Therefore, people only have to pay for the test if they decide that they want to do it themselves, or on return from abroad, they can avoid official home quarantine with 2 negative PCR tests. The healthcare provider may charge a maximum price of HUF 19,500, which includes the cost of sampling and testing, and no additional costs may be charged.

featured photo: Márton Mónus/MTI