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Hungary to impose restrictions on cross-border travel starting Wednesday

Budapest, Hungary – Gergely Gulyás, Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, announced on Sunday that the country will impose travel restrictions in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 starting next Wednesday (July 15).

“Hungary must protect its own security and prevent the virus from being imported from abroad,” said Gulyás at a press conference. The move comes after the country lifted most of its travel-related restrictions to other EU member states in May.

Under the newly established color-based system, countries will be divided into three groups “green,” “yellow” and “red.” Hungarians and citizens from “green” countries can come to Hungary without any restrictions.

Hungarians nationals coming back from high risk countries marked as “yellow” and “red” will have to undergo health checks at the border and will be required to enter into two-week quarantine even if they do not exhibit symptoms of the disease.

In order to avoid quarantine, foreigners coming to Hungary from “yellow” countries and Hungarians coming back from “yellow” and “red” countries will be required to present two negative Covid-19 tests. The tests need to be taken at least five days prior to entering and there needs to be at least a 48-hour gap between them.

In early July, Viktor Orban’s governement rejected the EU Council’s recommendation to relax travel restrictions to 14 third countries.

The “yellow” states will include Bulgaria, China, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Among the countries marked as “red” are Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Ukraine, as well as countries in Africa, most of Asia and South America. The full list of countries can be found on here.

In early July, Hungary rejected the EU Council’s recommendation to relax travel restrictions to 14 third countries. Since then, some countries in Europe have experienced spikes in cases as the number of the infections in the world kept on rising.

Yesterday, the Czech Republic added Serbia and Montenegro on the list of high-risk countries after Serbia recorded 18 deaths and 386 new cases in a day.

Hungary has so far kept an open border to the neighboring Serbia even though the country is not part of the Schengen agreement.

By Matej Voda

Matej Voda writes about democratic backsliding, popular culture, and disinformation. He is based in Prague. Feel free to check out more of his articles right here! You can also find him on Twitter.