Many Central and Eastern European countries imposed tough restrictions during the first wave of the novel coronavirus in the spring and saw low infection rates while the virus was ravaging countries in the western part of the continent. As a result, many were wondering how these countries managed to contain the pandemic to such an extent. As the second wave of the virus hit the CEE region, it had become clear that Central and Eastern Europe have to face a similar offensive of the pandemic as its western neighbors. Thus, we take a look at the measures countries in the region have introduced in an attempt to avoid a complete collapse of their healthcare systems.
Although the novel coronavirus pandemic is on a rapid rise in Hungary, the restrictions introduced in the country during the second wave are clearly on the more lenient side.
Restaurants, cafés, and bars are open but must close at 11 pm. Mass events of more than 500 people are banned but as of now, family events and weddings of less than 200 people can be held in the country.
Mandatory face mask usage has been recently expanded and from Monday on, people will be required to wear in all public places, including restaurants, and in-catering facilities at sporting events. Masks will only be allowed to be removed for eating and drinking.
The Czech Republic is among the most severely affected countries in Europe, with a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases. The country has already decided to impose a national lockdown, closing schools, services, and shops, with exception of those selling essential supplies.
People are not able to leave their homes unless they are going to work, making essential family visits, exercising, buying food or medicine, or seeking medical help. The Czech Republic was also the first in the region to introduce a nighttime curfew throughout the country.
Infections in Austria have also been rising steadily but the country has so far introduced only relatively lenient restrictions.
What happens in Austria is especially important to Hungary as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has already stated several times that Budapest considers its neighbor to be a “laboratory,” an example, as “what happens there will happen here soon.”
So far, indoor gatherings have been limited to six people, while outdoor gatherings to 12. States are able to impose regional restrictions, including curfews to respond to local outbreaks quicker and more effectively. In addition, the list of locations where masks are mandatory has been expanded, such as at train stops and stations, and shopping malls. Meanwhile, shops, bars, restaurants and theaters remain open.
Slovakia has introduced strict measures similar to those imposed in the spring. High schools, services, restaurants have all been closed. Indoor and outdoor gatherings are all limited to six people with a ban on mass events.
Using a protective mask is mandatory in and outdoors and dedicated shopping hours for the elderly have also been reintroduced.
Slovenia was the first European country to declare the end of the epidemic after the spring wave in May. With the surge of new infections, however, the country has introduced strict movement restrictions.
People in the country can travel outside of their municipality only in exceptional cases. Public gatherings and private ones of more than six people are prohibited. Shops, services, schools, excluding those selling essential supplies are generally closed. Wearing face masks is required on public transportation and in enclosed public places.
In spite of the rapid rise of coronavirus infections, restrictions in Romania are similarly lenient to the ones in Austria and Hungary.
Only private gatherings of no more than 50 people and outdoor events of no more than 100 people are allowed. Outdoor cafes and clubs are closed from 11 pm to 6 am. Using facemasks is mandatory in closed public spaces, stores, on public transportation, and in public outdoor spaces.
Poland saw a new record of coronavirus infections on Friday. The measures introduced in the country include wearing masks in all outdoor public spaces, a ban on social gatherings, as well as limits on the number of customers in shops and passengers on public transport.
Featured photo by Attila Balázs/MTI