Hungary is closing its borders to foreigners to stop the spread of Covid-19
- Cars were queuing at the Hungarian border with Austria when the new rules came into effect
- Returning Hungarians will be quarantined unless they test negative twice
- Some tourists from Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have an exemption
Hungary’s borders were closed to foreigners today as the country tries to stop a resurgence in coronavirus cases.
Cars lined up at the border with Austria last night when Hungary reintroduced the measures in place during the first wave of the pandemic.
Hungarians returning from abroad will be quarantined for two weeks unless they can present two negative tests – but some tourists from Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are still admitted if they are not infected.
Most European borders reopened in May and June, but many countries have seen spikes in recent weeks in cases some of which have blamed foreign travel.
Cars line up to enter Hungary at a border crossing near Nickelsdorf, Austria, in the early hours of this morning when the Hungarian government closed its borders to foreigners
People are standing next to their cars as they wait to cross the border from Austria to Hungary on Tuesday morning
Hungary has accumulated 806 new infections in the past week, an alarming increase from 239 a week earlier and 220 the week before.
Nationalist leader Viktor Orban faces one of the biggest challenges of his 10-year rule after the economy plunged 13.6 percent a year in the second quarter.
Although Hungary is one of the approved countries on the UK ‘travel corridor’ list, the new rules mean that foreigners will not be admitted.
Exceptions to the entry ban will apply to military convoys and humanitarian transit, as well as to business or diplomatic travel.
After talks with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Monday, Orban agreed to allow Czech visitors who have already booked a vacation for September to enter the country.
The slight relaxation of the rules was later extended to Poland and Slovakia, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Visitors coming to Hungary must submit a negative test no older than five days, which is safe enough according to Budapest.
A line of vehicles headed the other way towards Austria, while Hungary closed its borders to foreigners and ordered the Hungarians to be quarantined
An Austrian police officer inspects vehicles lining up to enter the country from Hungary early on Tuesday
Private Secretary Gergely Gulyas said Hungarian citizens could only leave the 14-day quarantine if they provided two negative tests.
“The number of infections has increased … and most come from abroad,” Gulyas told a press conference last week.
“We don’t want to reintroduce lockdown measures,” Gulyas said.
He said the border restrictions were necessary for the school year to start this week, and to protect people as well as the economy.
The Hungarian National Police Chief will have the authority to grant exemptions in other limited cases.
Vehicles queuing early today at the border crossing as Hungary tries to halt an alarming resurgence in coronavirus cases
Gulyas tested negative for the virus last week after he and other officials gathered at a private event with a party spokesman who later tested positive.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto also came under fire last week after he was spotted on a yacht in Croatia while sharing photos that appeared to show him hard working in an office.
Budapest will host the UEFA Super Cup match next month between Champions League winners Bayern and Europa League holders Sevilla.
The government is considering several ways for fans to attend the game on Sept. 24, Gulyas said.
The Champions League and Europa League finals were played behind closed doors, but UEFA is willing to allow limited participation in the Super Cup.
One possibility is that fans would have to produce two negative tests at the airport, be transported directly to the stadium, and back to the airport after the game.