Hungary, a relatively small country in the heart of central Europe extensively known by its architectural landmarks and historical buildings, is the first Schengen country to reclose its borders to foreign citizens foreseeing a second COVID-19 wave in its territory.

Last week, Gergely Gulyás, the current Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office has announced, not only the reclosing of their borders but also the implementation of the same restrictions applied when the pandemic first struck.

So what does this mean for tourists who had flights scheduled or stranded nationals? Is it possible to go back home? What are these new and old restrictions? Keep reading and we will help you out with most of your questions. 

Can I enter Hungary for a connecting flight? 

Yes, you are. Hungary will continue to serve as a corridor to allow transit through its territory.

What are the new general entry requirements to enter Hungary?

In order to monitor the coronavirus pandemic and ensure the safety of its citizens and allowed visitors, Hungarian authorities have imposed the following restrictions and requirements.

  • Hungarian citizens returning home from abroad will be required to either quarantine or submit proof of 2 negative COVID-19 tests (PCR and/or serology) The first one upon arrival and the second when the authorities consider it pertinent.
  • There will be health screening procedures at airports and other ports of entry. 
  • Visitors are advised to keep physical distancing of a half meter at least.   
  • Wearing a face mask is mandatory at all times when in the airport and in public spaces.

Quick note! – If you are a national returning home or a “permitted” visitor be prepared to remain in the country for an indefinite period since the current lockdown does not have an official end day. 

For further info about the new restrictions check the Hungarian government’s website.

How bad is the second COVID-19 wave in Hungary?

Source: World Health Organization (WHO)

From the beginning of last August, the country has witnessed a skyrocketing increase in positive cases and its death toll.  As of September 11th, the authorities had reported 10,909 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 631 deaths. On Friday, the country reported a daily increase of 132 new cases compared to 52 new cases just a week earlier.

Nowadays, Hungary has 25,117 patients in mandatory home quarantine, 259 patients hospitalized, 12 of whom are in critical condition. 

Cecilia Müller, Chief Medical Officer, confirmed that the second wave has hit the country and now the focus should be on protecting the elderly and the chronically ill. She also mentioned that access and admissions to social care homes will be restricted.

What kind of activities are allowed for locals and people in Hungary?

  • Eating out and having a drink – In case you are tired of cooking and take out, or you just feel like meeting some friends for coffee, you will be glad to know that bars, restaurants and cafes are open for business.
  • Watching a football match, and other outdoor sports is still possible. Buy a ticket, get a mask matching your team’s colors and go show your support! Seating may be limited because of social distancing rules so make sure to plan ahead.
  • Shopping – Go out and have some fun shopping. We all need to unwind and this is a great way to do it while supporting the local economy. Markets and shopping malls are open, just remember to wear your mask in closed and some public spaces.
  • Enjoying cultural venues like libraries, museums and zoos is also allowed. Theaters are open as well. So pick your favorite and go have fun.
  • Celebrating with family and friends. Go ahead with your wedding plans. These ceremonies (and other family gatherings, like funerals) are allowed. Just remember to check the new government restrictions for the number of people who can attend.

Some phone numbers to keep handy

If you are showing any of the known coronavirus symptoms such as continuous cough, fever loss of smell or taste or your temperature is above 37.8C, the government has created a public hotline for you to talk to an infectious disease specialist at 06-80-277-455 and 06-80-277-456. Please note that this hotline is offered in Hungarian only.