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New lockdown in Hungary in March 2021

March 4, 2021

Last updated on 30 April 2021.

Please see our articles about the latest relaxations in April and May.

At the press conference on 4 March, a new lockdown was announced for Hungary for the next two weeks, with further restrictions compared to what was introduced in November. The article is now updated with information from the official decree.

UPDATE on 29 March: The lockdown will remain in place at least until 8 April. Restrictions will be relaxed once 2.5 million people have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

Wear a mask

Wearing a mask is now obligatory in all public spaces, without exceptions. It must be a proper mask (not a scarf or a bandana), and it should cover both mouth and nose.

Work from home

People should stay at home as much as possible, which includes working from home whenever their job makes it possible.

Border crossing limited

Crossing the border of Hungary will become more limited. Details to be provided later, so it is not clear how this affects the latest rules pertaining to business travel. However, neither transit nor shipping is restricted.

Update on 5 March: no further restrictions are included in the latest government decree.

Shops closing from 8 March

All shops will be closed starting from Monday – including casinos. The shops that may remain open include:

  • grocery stores
  • stores selling food for pets and domestic animals
  • drug stores
  • pharmacies and stores selling medical products or glasses
  • gas stations
  • tobacco shops
  • news stands
  • local farmers’ markets
  • stores selling basic commodities required for work, especially agricultural work (e.g. vehicles, machines, machine parts, construction materials – but NOT consumer electronics)
  • agricultural stores, stores selling fertilizer or plants
  • slaughterhouses

Restaurants and cafés may remain open with the same provisions as before, with options only for takeaway or home delivery.

Florists may remain open on 8 March, the International Day of Women. Customers may enter these stores for the time of making their purchase.

All services suspended from 8 March

Shops and offices where services for which the customer must be present must be closed. Exceptions include the following:

  • financial service providers (banks)
  • traffic and transportation (including public transport and taxis)
  • post offices, other delivery providers
  • food processing
  • mass catering
  • lottery ticket shops
  • social service providers (e.g. shelters, personal care)
  • private healthcare providers, including shops selling glasses
  • vets and any service provider related to the health and breeding of animals
  • laboratories related to the health of animals or plants, or to testing foodstuff
  • IT and telecommunication service providers
  • lawyers
  • security
  • building maintenance
  • vehicle and other machine rentals
  • maintenance services for vehicles, household machines, plumbing and other building equipment
  • cleaners
  • funeral services

Since government offices are not included in the list of exceptions, taking care of administrative issues in person might not be possible. So far we have the following information:

  • Immigration Office: open for pre-booked appointments (business as usual)
  • “Kormányablak” government offices: open for pre-booked appointments (business as usual)
  • OFFI (Office for Translation and Attestation): you can order translation via email
  • NAV (Tax Authority): in Budapest, only the office at Dózsa György út is open
  • NEAK (National Health Insurance Fund Management): to be updated

Education

  • Kindergartens and elementary schools are closing until 19 April. Courses continue online.
  • The rules pertaining to high schools and universities remain the same, courses continue online wherever possible.
  • Whether dormitories remain open is decided by the headmaster of each school.
  • In adult education, exams are postponed.
  • Bar exams (for practicing law) may be held.

Sports and leisure

  • Gyms, ice rinks, swimming pools remain open only for professional athletes
  • Professional sporting events may be held without spectators
  • Doing sports in open air and alone is still allowed, observing social distancing
  • Parks and botanical gardens may remain open

Reliefs for businesses

Tax allowances and wage subsidies that already apply to the hospitality industry will be expanded to all businesses that must close down. They will be available for the period of the lockdown between 8 and 22 March 29 March 2021.

What to expect?

Since vaccinating the population is well underway, the government expects that restrictions currently in place might be relaxed gradually, starting from 22 March after at least 2.5 million people have been vaccinated. However, right now it is too early to say anything more about both the restrictions and the lockdown. The health statistics of the two weeks to come will heavily influence future decisions.

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