Everyday Life in Hungary Drastically Changed Due to Coronavirus-Curbing Measures
Péter Cseresnyés 2020.03.17.
In an attempt to contain the Covid-19 outbreak in Hungary, Viktor Orbán has announced new, strict restrictions that have come into effect as of midnight on Monday. With the closure of restaurants, cafes, pubs, and cultural institutions, the new measures affect everyday life in Hungary to a great extent.
Theaters, museums, libraries, cinemas, and other cultural facilities will be closed. Restaurants, cafes, pubs, and shops will be allowed to remain open from 6 am until 3 pm, and restaurants can still prepare meals for take-away after 3 without any restraint. The restriction will not apply to food stores, pharmacies, drug stores, gas stations, and tobacco shops.
The government has also closed Hungary’s borders to all passenger transport and only Hungarian citizens are being allowed to enter. We covered this part of the newly introduced measures in detail in this article.
Service provider companies restricting personal business
Meanwhile, more and more service provider companies are temporarily closing their customer offices to protect their employees and to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
From Monday, Budapest Electric Works (ELMŰ) provides services with increased precautions. Customers can only use the company’s digital platforms to conduct their business. Official papers can be sent via mail or e-mail.
The National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary (NAV) has also suspended personal customer service at eight of its Pest County offices.
The Budapest Government Office has also asked people to visit the one-stop-shop “government windows”(kormányablak) in person only when it is absolutely necessary and if we already have an appointment. Otherwise, they encourage people to use their services online.
Hungary’s postal administration, Hungarian Post (Magyar Posta) has also introduced a new queuing policy, similar to pharmacies: only as many customers can be present in the building at the same time as there are counters.
People queuing to enter a post office in Pécs. Photo by Tamás Sóki/MTI
Previously introduced measures
The government ordered a “state of emergency” last Wednesday. First, it banned travelers from Italy, China, South Korea, and Iran, except for Hungarian citizens arriving from those locations who have to stay in isolation at home for two weeks after arrival. The government also decided to ban indoor events with more than 100 people in attendance, and outdoor events with more than 500 people. Universities were also closed with remote study options. From Monday, public schools have also been shut down, and students started online distance learning. Additional measures include a ban on foreign school excursions. The government also initiated the construction of an epidemiology hospital.
In the featured photo: the empty Budapest Eye. Photo by Zoltán Balogh /MTI