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Govʼt introduces movement restrictions

Hungaryʼs government is introducing movement restrictions from March 28 until April 11 to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a weekly interview on public radio on Friday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

Image by Zsolt Szigetvári/MTI

Orbán stressed that the government is decreeing "restrictions" on movement outside of peopleʼs homes, not a "prohibition".

The decree allows people to leave their homes for work or for "essential" activities such as buying food.

The decree also sets times when over-65s can do their shopping with the aim of keeping them separate from young people who may be asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus.

Orbán said "hospital commanders", in uniform, would take control of oversight at all hospitals in the country from Monday. They will ensure regulations are observed and supply stocks are sufficient, he added.

The signed decree on what Hungary calls "curfew" measures, which the Prime Minister posted on his Facebook page, requires people to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from others who are not members of their household. The distancing requirement applies to passengers on public transport, too.

Dining in at restaurants is banned, but picking up food for take-out is allowed.

People may leave their homes for "well-founded" reasons, including to work, to make purchases required for work, to get healthcare or buy medicines, to buy food or fast-moving consumer goods, to buy cigarettes, to visit the hairdresser, to fill up with petrol, to get oneʼs vehicle serviced, to walk pets and to practice oneʼs faith. It also allows people to go out to avail of official administrative, banking, insurance and postal services "in the most necessary circumstances", as well as to assist people in need, such as children, the elderly and the sick.

Going out to exercise is allowed, but only alone or with other members of the same household, and while maintaining the 1.5 meter distancing requirement from other people.

The decree prohibits anyone who is not 65 or older from shopping in supermarkets, stores that sell FMCGs or pharmacies between 9 a.m. and noon.

The decree instructs the police, the army and other law enforcement bodies to ensure compliance with the curfew restrictions. Violations may be dealt with by means outlined in the Police Act while observing "requirements of necessity and proportionality".

Fines of between HUF 5,000 and HUF 500,000 may be issued for violations of the restrictions.