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Government declares state of emergency

The government has decided to declare a state of emergency for the entire country in order to protect Hungary from the coronavirus epidemic, Head of the Prime Ministerʼs Office Gergely Gulyás announced at a press briefing today.

Gergely Gulyás (Photo by MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák)

The state of emergency is in effect for 15 days. It allows the government to introduce extraordinary decrees to tackle the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Gulyás, the current situation warranted the declaration of the state of emergency. He added that the government is coordinating closely with other EU member states, especially Austria and Slovenia as these two countries separate Hungary from the coronavirus-stricken Italy. 

Hungary will introduce a travel ban for arrivals from Italy, China, South Korea, and Iran. Hungarian citizens will be exempted, but they will be subject to mandatory quarantine. According to Gulyás, this will mean a home isolation in most cases, but hospital quarantine could be ordered by the authorities. Border controls on the Schengen borders with Austria and Slovenia will also be established. The ban will come into effect by midnight at the latest.

Universities will be closed down, but remote lectures will be held. School trips abroad are now banned, but primary and secondary will continue to operate. Gulyás said that the university shutdown will be in place by Monday at the latest, but as earlier, if possible.

The government has also decided to ban indoor events with more than 100 people, as well as outdoor events with an audience over 500.

Gulyás said that the government will "take steps to mitigate the economic damage", but added that human life is the priority concern at the moment.

Further measures are expected to follow in the upcoming days.