The Hungarian Government has introduced new travel restrictions in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The Decree on travel restrictions during the epidemiological preparedness period (Decree no. 408/2020. (VIII. 30.), the ‘Decree’) regulates entry into Hungary from 1 September 2020 to 1 October 2020.
1. Hungarian citizens and foreign nationals with equivalent status
These individuals can enter Hungary with a private passport or other travel document entitling them to entry, and must submit to a medical examination upon entry. They will, however, be quarantined in any event. Where will depend on whether or they show signs of infection during the border check: if the individual has symptoms, s/he must quarantine in a designated public institution, if not, s/he must quarantine for a 14-day period at home.
2. Exemption from quarantine
Upon request of the quarantined person, the appropriate epidemiological authority may allow him/her to take a SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests two times within five days, at least 48 hours apart.
If the results are negative, the epidemiological authority ordering the quarantine will give an exemption from quarantine.
In this case, the costs of the two negative PCR tests required for the exemption will be borne by the individual. The cost is EUR 100 for each test, and EUR 10 as the general fee for the exemption decision.
3. Labour law implications of returning to Hungary from abroad
Under the legal provisions in question, a person who is in officially ordered home quarantine due to private travel abroad shall not be considered incapacitated for work. This means s/he will not be entitled to benefits payable to incapacitated employees for the duration of the quarantine.
If it is possible to employ the employee from home either in his/her own job or in another job the employee should be paid a wage. However, if this is not possible, the employee’s absence from work will be considered justified unpaid absence.
4. Cases of incapacity for work
If the home quarantine was not ordered due to return from a private trip, but the employee is banned from working for public health reasons or is officially isolated for public health reasons
(designated quarantine), or cannot come to work due to an epidemiological or veterinary quarantine, and cannot be even temporarily employed at a different workplace (or in a different job), then s/he will be considered incapacitated and entitled to benefits for incapacitated employees.
It is important to note, that the Decree does not apply to:
– border crossing by freight traffic;
– border crossing with an official passport; and
– a person who, upon entry into Hungary, provides credible proof that s/he has contracted COVID-19 within six months prior to the date of the border crossing.
5. Entry of foreign nationals into Hungary
Non-Hungarian citizens cannot enter the territory of Hungary using passenger traffic. The following are exceptions from the general rule above:
– A chief executive officer or an employee of a domestic company or a company incorporated in any state which is in a business relationship (under the relevant tax legislation) with another company registered in any other state may enter Hungary without restrictions, provided s/he provides evidence of the business purpose of travel.
– The government will allow Czech, Polish and Slovak citizens to enter with a negative test within five days, but it is expected that at the request of other states, several countries may be granted a concession for the entry of their nationals for tourist purposes.
Citizens of Hungary or neighbouring states living within a 30km radius of the state border may enter the territory of the other state within a 30km radius of the state border without restrictions and stay there for a maximum period of 24 hours.
7. Persons passing through Hungary
Foreign nationals can enter Hungary For transit purposes, if they submit to a health examination upon entry and this examination does not raise suspicion of infection.
8. Official exemption from the entry ban upon request
Upon request, the relevant police authority can authorise entry if the requesting party proves that the purpose of entry is, inter alia:
– participation in court or official proceedings;
– business activity or other work activity which is justified by a letter of invitation from a central governmental body, an independent regulatory body or an autonomous public administration body;
– travel using passenger traffic in connection with work related to a transport activity, the purpose of which is to reach the place of departure of the transport task (place of commencement of work), or returning after this work, if evidenced by a certificate issued by the employer;
– access to health care, participation in certain family events, or for other reasonable reasons;
These individuals must submit to a medical examination on entry to Hungary, and
– if infection is suspected: will not be granted entry;
– if infection is not suspected: must quarantine for 14 days.