Govʼt issues state-of-emergency decree

Government

Hungaryʼs government declared a state of emergency from midnight on Tuesday amidst rising coronavirus case numbers in a decree published in the official gazette Magyar Közlöny, state news wire MTI reports.

Hungarian law allows the government to declare a state of emergency, or "state of danger" as it is called in the decree, for 15 days. An extension requires a vote by lawmakers.

The decree stipulates that the government will "continuously assess" the need for maintaining the state of emergency and that it will ask for the cooperation of citizens in implementing extraordinary measures related to the state of emergency.

The government specified measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus in a separate decree.

The decree orders a country-wide curfew between midnight and 5 a.m. in the morning, making exceptions only for people who are traveling because of work or commuting to work as well as for people in situations that pose a threat to life or limb.

The government will make a decision on whether or not to keep the curfew in place by November 30, "at the latest", if the state of emergency is extended by Parliament, according to the decree.

The decree allows cinema screenings, concerts, theatre, and dance performances, and sporting events "that are not international", as long as two empty seats separate spectators on each side and seats immediately in front and behind are empty, but it bans concerts without separated seating.

When not seated, spectators must stay 1.5 meters apart.

The decree makes it the responsibility of event organizers to remove any spectators who do not comply with the rules.

The decree stipulates that regulations of international associations are to be applied to international sporting events.

Museums, archives, community centers and libraries may remain open, but visitors must comply with social distancing rules.

Event organizers and institution managers who fail to enforce seating and social distancing rules may be issued a warning, fined between HUF 100,000 and HUF 1 million, or shut down for a period of between one day and one year. The decree makes an exception to the shutdown sanction for sport venues: violators may be forced to host between one and ten sporting events without any spectators.

The decree requires public transport companies in Budapest, county seats and cities with populations over 50,000 to expand service between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to prevent overcrowding. Companies may be fined between HUF 1 mln and HUF 5 mln for non-compliance.

The decree waives parking fees in public areas across the country.

The decree stipulates that all rules in force during the "state of pandemic preparedness", which the government declared after a state of emergency in the spring ended, will remain in force. These rules include ones requiring masks to be worn in shops, on public transport, at event venues and in catering establishments.

The decree allows authorities to levy on-the-spot fines of between HUF 5,000 and HUF 150,000 for people who violate rules on separate seating and social distancing at event venues and cultural institutions, and who violate the ban on concerts without separated seating. Repeat offenders may be fined up to HUF 200,000.

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