Hungary Re-Closes Borders to Nearly all Foreign Nationals Due to COVID-19 Concerns

Authorities in Hungary have moved forward with border closures once again in another attempt at preventing the COVID-19 pandemic from reaching inside of their borders.

The measure will be in place from 1 September 2020; a date for the end of the border closures has not been announced.

The border closures will pertain to almost all foreign nationals wishing to enter or transit through Hungary. Exceptions will include:

  • Military convoys traveling across borders.
  • International humanitarian efforts.
  • Travel for business.
  • Diplomatic travel and/or other official travel.

“Border crossing will be allowed during limited hours, and travel via humanitarian corridors will also be guaranteed in the future, following the rules in effect earlier. Specific, stringent rules will apply to sports events, while diplomatic and official travel will also be allowed. In cases deserving special consideration, the national police chief will have the authority to grant the exemptions,” said Gergely Gulyás, Chief of Hungarian Prime Minister Orban’s Cabinet.

The reinstatement of the old border closure measures is due primarily to a belief among Hungarian authorities that most of their COVID-19 cases have been brought from abroad, and that closing their borders to foreigners will contain the infection rate in the country. There is also a belief among Hungarian authorities that it is a necessary measure to allow the next school year to start.

“The number of infections has increased […] and most of these originate from abroad,” said Gulyás.

The re-closing of Hungarian borders is highly indicative of more lack of coordination and cooperation between Member States.

In July, recommendations from the European Council included that if new restrictions are put into place, they should be coordinated with other Member States. The recommendations also included that more “targeted measures” should be put into place to target specific geographical regions and points in time, rather than a broad blanket-policy.

However, Hungary did not inform the Commission or other Member States about the measures being enacted during the last official meeting, which happened on 29 August 2020.

It is still unknown when Hungary will loosen their border restrictions, or what their response to internal EU pressure will be.

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