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New travel restrictions for COVID-stricken states

The government of Hungary has decided to classify countries into three categories – green, yellow, and red - depending on their coronavirus infection rate and introduce new travel restrictions for states falling into the latter two categories, according to a report by government news site kormany.hu.

Gergely Gulyás (Photo by Károly Árvai/kormany.hu)

The system, which will come into effect on Wednesday, was announced by Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office.

"Today Hungary is one of Europe’s safest countries from the respect of the pandemic," Gulyás said, adding that the fight against the virus has not been this successful elsewhere in the world, and so the epidemic is resurging in many places.

"We have a chance of avoiding the repeated introduction of measures that restrict our lives if we succeed in keeping the virus outside our borders," he argued.

The minister highlighted that the government saw no reason for the introduction of further domestic restrictive rules as the number of infections is decreasing in Hungary.

According to the new system, countries, where both infection rates and risks are low, will fall into the green category. There will be no restrictions on entry for those coming from these states.

In the case of the other two categories, different rules will apply to Hungarian nationals and their relatives and to non-Hungarian nationals.

Hungarians entering the country from countries falling into the yellow or red category are subject to health screening and are required to retire to home quarantine for 14 days. An exception to this rule is if the person arriving in Hungary from such countries is able to present two negative coronavirus test results from tests carried in the previous five days with 48 hours between the two tests. Hungarian nationals arriving from yellow countries are released from quarantine after the first coronavirus test, while in the case of countries in the red category two negative test results are required.

In the case of non-Hungarians, the nationals of yellow countries are allowed to enter the country under the same conditions as Hungarian nationals, while nationals from countries falling into the red category are not allowed to enter Hungary, Gulyás said.

Transit passenger and cargo traffic constitute an exception to these rules as does official travel. Still, health examinations may be carried out in these cases as well, the minister pointed out.

Exemption from the rules of compulsory home quarantine can be granted by the police in cases deserving special consideration; applications must be submitted in English or Hungarian.

According to the report, the government will regularly review the lists of countries every Wednesday.

The list

Gulyás added that in the case of EU Member States, the government paid special attention to ensuring free movement wherever possible.

At present, from among member states, Bulgaria, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden fall into the yellow category. Non-EU countries in the category are: the United Kingdom, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Japan, China, and the United States.

From among European countries, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Ukraine fall into the red category, as do the countries of Asia, Africa and South America with the above exceptions.

In Croatia, the number of infections is low despite the increase, and for the time being, it remains in the green category, Gulyás said.

The government will cover the costs of testing until August 1, however, thereafter everyone themselves will have to cover the costs of testing if – returning from a country falling into the yellow or red category – they do not wish to remain in compulsory home quarantine for 14 days, the minister noted.