Hungary closes borders to non-residents, cancels flights, restricts public gatherings


In a bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, the Hungarian government introduced strict measures that include closing its borders, cancelling international flights from high-risk nations, banning public gatherings and introducing significant restrictions on commercial activities.

These measures come into effect on 17 March 2020.

Regarding border closures, entry will only granted to Hungarian nationals and EEA nationals with proven permanent residence in Hungary. Hungary has also reintroduced control on its borders with Slovenia and Austria.

Regarding travel restrictions, international passenger flights (not including fly overs), train and bus services from Italy, China, South Korea and Iran will not be permitted entry into Hungary. Restrictions on entry of foreigners apply to all passenger flights, bus and train services to the country.

Hungarian nationals and EEA nationals who have permanent right of residence in Hungary arriving from these countries will be subject to medical examination. If the examination determines a suspicion of COVID-19 infection the person will be placed under quarantine at a healthcare institution.

If the medical examination does not confirm a suspicion of COVID-19 infection, the person will be placed in quarantine at their home for 14 days. These persons will be registered, and Law enforcement will supervise and enforce home quarantine.

Restrictions on international travel do not apply to the international trade of goods. Borders will remain open for commercial purposes.

All public gatherings and events are prohibited irrespective of the number of participants. Museums, galleries, theatres and cinemas will be closed and sporting events will be restricted.

With the exception of grocery stores, drugstores, pharmacies, gas stations and tobacco stores, all shops will now close at 15:00 each day.  Restaurants will also close at 15:00 each day, but can provide take-away services for the remainder of the day.

These moves come in the wake of Hungary's March 11 declaration of a State of Emergency. Mandated through Government Decree No 40/2020. (III. 11.), the State of Emergency is indefinite, but will be reviewed every 15 days and renewed as necessary.

A government spokesperson stated that the State of Emergency will likely remain in effect for weeks if not months.

The legal basis for the State of Emergency is Article 53 of the Hungarian Fundamental Law that states the government can “adopt decrees by means of which it may, as provided for by a cardinal Act, suspend the application of certain Acts, derogate from the provisions of Acts and take other extraordinary measures."

The Decree itself did not adopt any measures with specific measures introduced in separate decrees, such as Government Decree No. 46/2020 (III. 16.) that closed Hungary’s borders and restricted commercial activities.

For more information on the economic ramifications of Hungary's response to the coronavirus crisis, contact your regular CMS advisor or local CMS experts: Zsolt Okányi, and Boldizsár Bálint who contributed to the article.