Hungary is joining a host of other countries in restricting air travel from the southern African region in an effort to contain a highly mutated variant of the coronavirus identified there, the Government Information Centre (KTK) said on Saturday.
The Council of the European Union on Friday debated response measures to the newly-identified B.1.1.529 South African coronavirus variant and recommended pulling an “emergency brake” and imposing temporary restrictions on non-essential travel from southern Africa. Member states agreed on the need for the introduction of restrictions.
The Council proposed requiring travellers from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to be tested for coronavirus and quarantined upon arrival in the EU.
Hungary has started preparing its own response measures, KTK said, adding that the government is expected to issue a decree in the matter later.
Under the government decree published in the official gazette Magyar Közlöny on Saturday afternoon, Hungarian nationals who arrive from southern Africa or have visited the region in the two weeks prior to returning home will have to quarantine for a period of 14 days.
The restrictions apply to arrivals from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Hungarians returning from the region will be required to enter a designated or official home quarantine regardless of whether or not they are suspected of having contracted the virus.
The decree bans entry to all non-Hungarian citizens from the region with the exception of those given special permission by the authorities. Foreign nationals given permission to enter are still required to quarantine for a full 14 days even if they produce a negative PCR test.