Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Budapest, Hungary
May 29, 2020
The Department of State has issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.
International commercial flight options currently exist in Hungary. U.S. citizens who wish to return to the United States should make commercial arrangements as soon as possible unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. The U.S. government has no plans to arrange repatriation flights in Hungary at this time.
- Hungary has 3841 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its borders. Number of deceased: 517.
- For official up-to-date information about COVID-19 related restrictions and regulations, please visit: https://koronavirus.gov.hu/. English language information is available at http://abouthungary.hu/news-in-brief/coronavirus-heres-the-latest/
- According to the government’s decree, as of May 4 the lockdown was eased in the countryside (excluded the city of Budapest and Pest county), but social distancing measures continued to apply. As of May 18, the same easing of lockdown regulations came into effect in the capital and in Pest county, but physical distancing of one and a half metres is to be kept, and masks will have to be worn when shopping and on public transport. Public areas, parks and shops can open. Restaurants, cafés, and bars may be open if they have a garden or terrace. Customers may not consume food or drink inside the premises in Budapest. Outdoor baths, open-air museums, playgrounds, and zoos may reopen, however, the operators of the facilities must ensure that social distancing is maintained everywhere. Restrictions on store opening hours will be lifted, but the rule remains in effect whereby only those people over the age of 65 can shop in grocery stores and drugstores between 9 a.m. and noon. District councils may decide on the opening hours and regulations of farmers’ markets. Outside Budapest, hotels can reopen, while maintaining social distance regulations. Customers of restaurants, cafés, confectioneries and buffets will be permitted to eat the ordered food or drink inside the venue. The staff are obliged to wear face masks covering the mouth and the nose, and the protective distance must be maintained. Universities may be open provided that physical distancing is observed, but the rector has the ultimate right to decide. Visiting student residences is still prohibited.
As of May 29, restaurants, cafes, bakeries and buffets will be allowed to serve food and drinks indoors in Budapest too. Also, the same rules will apply to catering establishments operated by hotels in the capital, but employees will still be expected to wear face masks and the same physical distancing rules will apply as they do outside Budapest.
- Gathering in groups will be banned. From 28 May, open-air cultural and sporting events (e.g. open-air theater, cinema, circus, exhibition, literary event) can be attended in accordance with epidemiological rules. Spectators may occupy only one in four seats, shall not sit directly behind each other and shall have a safety distance of at least 1.5 meters between them. An outdoor event is a program that takes place for the entire duration outside a walled, covered building on all sides, or during which spectators are protected by a tent (such as a circus tent) due to the weather, or those that are enclosed by a wall built for the event or take place in an uncovered or partially covered facility (e.g. stadium, swimming pool, outdoor stage, outdoor cinema).
Worship services can be held, and civil marriages and funerals can also be held at a protective distance. Family events and weddings of less than 200 people can be held in the countryside from June 1, in Budapest from June 15, 2020.
- People visiting shops, markets, and shopping malls, or using public transport and taxis are mandated to wear face masks or otherwise cover their faces with mask-like substitutes (scarves, shawls, etc.).
- As of March 17 the government ordered the closure of all clubs, entertainment venues, pubs, cinemas, and cultural institutions.
- Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc airport remains open, however only Hungarian citizens and permanent resident card holders of the European Economic Area (EU member states, Switzerland, and Norway), other permanent resident card holders who have close Hungarian relatives, and diplomats with resident cards are able to enter Hungary. Per the airport authority, foreign citizens who are turned away by the authorities must wait in the designated transit area until departure. Passengers arriving at Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc International Airport, which saw the relaunch of some flights, will undergo a compulsory medical test upon arrival. Depending on the test’s result, they may be taken to hospital quarantine or ordered to stay in home quarantine for 14 days.
- For departing passengers with cancelled flights, travelers should check carrier schedules for the latest updates and work directly with the carrier or travel agent to arrange or reschedule travel.
- As of May 4, businesspeople from six countries can enter Hungary according to a government decree published in Magyar Közlöny. Citizens of the Czech Republic, Poland, the Republic of Korea, Germany, Austria and Slovakia may freely enter Hungary from these respective territories for business purposes.
- The U.S. Embassy in Budapest is currently offering only limited American Citizens and visa services. All previously scheduled American Citizen Services appointments through the end of April are cancelled. In case you need to travel to the U.S. in the next seven days please come to the Embassy to submit an application for an emergency passport. Official hours for emergency passport applications: Monday – Friday 8:30 – 9:30 and 13:00 – 14:00. Passport pick up: Monday – Friday 15:00 – 16:00. No previously scheduled appointment is necessary. Visa applicants with interview appointments scheduled in the next 30 days should refer to the following website for more information: http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/hu/.
Entry and Exit Requirements
- As of May 14 (published in the Official Gazette of the Hungarian Government), a new government decree will enter into force regulating the entry of foreign nationals to Hungary. Requests for exemptions from the entry ban can be submitted in electronic form in Hungarian, stating the purpose of entry, family relations, ID or other personal documents number, and local address. The exceptions are as follows: official procedure, business, on-going health care treatments, continuing studies; detailed information and forms are posted on the police’s website.
- Hungary’s chief medical officer on the evening of March 26 issued a decree banning with immediate effect all civilian passenger transport by air, rail or bus into Hungary, as well as the entry of non-Hungarian citizens into the country. Hungarians entering the country were obliged to undergo medical examination. The decree allowed a humanitarian corridor to be left open for foreigners travelling across Hungary into neighbouring countries, and made allowances for drivers in international freight transportation.
- Only Hungarian citizens, permanent resident card holders of the European Economic Area (EU member states, Switzerland, and Norway), other permanent resident card holders who have close Hungarian relatives, and diplomats with resident cards are able to enter Hungary. (For detailed information on temporary reintroduction of border control in the Schengen Zone please visit the website of the European Commission.)
- Travel restrictions barring entry to the U.S. from the Schengen Zone do not apply to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and some family members of U.S. citizens, including any prospective adoptee who is seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications. For further information about the exceptions and the most current information regarding COVID-19, the March 11 and March 14 Presidential Proclamations, and its impact on travel to the United States, please visit www.coronavirus.gov, www.dhs.gov/coronavirus and www.whitehouse.gov/.
U.S. citizens who are considering returning to the United States should work with their airlines to make travel arrangements while flights are still available. In case commercial transportation options cease to be available, we are compiling a list of persons seeking to leave Hungary. Please enroll in STEP at https://step.state.gov/ and provide your name and contact information to our email address: HungaryUSCitizen@state.gov so we can contact you as soon as we have any updates.
Your email message should include the following information:
- Your full name as spelled in your passport.
- Information we can use to contact you now – a current phone number and email address.
- Your date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY).
- Your passport number, and its date of issuance and expiration. If it is not a U.S. passport, please note the country that issued it. Please also note any non-U.S. citizen immediate family members traveling with you.
- Please note your current location (city and country) and any special needs you may have, such as medical issues.
For the latest information regarding flights departing Budapest, please visit the airport’s website which is updated continuously.
There are individuals who have been quarantined in Hungary as precautionary measure due to the possibility they may be infected.
The Hungarian government has stated that if such individuals remain symptom-free for more than two weeks they can be released.
The Hungarian government has created a public hotline for individuals to talk to infectious disease specialists about COVID-19: 06-80-277-455 and 06-80-277-456. Please note that this hotline is offered in Hungarian only.
- Hungarian Government’s page: https://koronavirus.gov.hu/
- COVID-19-Related On-line Information Sources in Hungary