Daily Life, Hungary

So Budapest lifts COVID restrictions – now what?

Posted by Cat Ramos

It finally happened. On Saturday, the Hungarian government announces that it is lifting the Coronavirus lock down rules effective Monday. The below is from AboutHungary.hu:

The rules of easing the lock down that came into effect in the countryside from May 4 will come into effect in the capital today, but social distancing measures will continue to apply.

It will be compulsory to wear a mask in shops and on public transport in Budapest in order to prevent the spread of the infection. Public areas, parks and outdoor playgrounds can be visited from today.

People over the age of 65 will continue to be allowed to visit groceries, drugstores and pharmacies between 9am and noon and everyone else during the remaining opening hours, but municipalities have the right to set different rules for the opening hours of markets.

All shops and service providers will be allowed to open, and at restaurants, cafes and bars, the outdoor areas and terraces can be opened in the capital. Outdoor swimming pools, museums and the zoo can reopen to visitors.

Religious services, weddings and funerals attended by up to 200 people will be permitted from June 1 outside of the capital and after June 15 in Budapest. Family events can also be held at hotels and restaurants. Catering units will not have to pay a fee for using public spaces for their terraces from Monday until September 1 because they have suffered huge losses.

Universities can be reopened in Budapest, but this will require the decision of the rector everywhere. It is still prohibited to visit student accommodation establishments.

A call center set up for advice on the coronavirus can be reached on +36-80-277-455 and +36-80-277-456 or by email koronavirus@bm.gov.hu


I have mixed feelings about this. On one side, I am happy that we are starting to slowly regain back our lives. I am happy seeing my favorite places starting to reopen or get back to longer opening hours. Stitch Budapest will soon have new classes scheduled, and I will finally be able to attend the long-delayed kitchen course! Goodness knows, my weekends have been so empty without my weekly sewing fix at Stitch Budapest.

I wasn’t fully jumping up and down with excitement, though. I don’t believe we are out of the woods yet. Personally, I think I will even spend more time indoors. No rushing to the shops, no mingling with other people, no going to social gatherings. Even in the office, no one wants to go back to work, unless it is absolutely safe. And we know it is not.

In my company, we have yet to come up with clear and specific guidelines new office policies. Elevator use, for example. Are we allowed to use elevators? If yes, how many people should be in one elevator at one time? Will the cafeteria be open? Are we allowed to eat in the kitchen with other people?

We saw in the news how the 2nd wave of coronavirus messed up the situation in South Korea and China, after more new cases emerged. I fear that my country is heading that way soon; I think the Philippines would be in an even worse state than before. Over the weekend, Philippine social media was full of pictures of crowded streets and malls, traffic becoming heavier again in Metro Manila. Even my relatives shared some pictures of them having some home party. My sister and I could only shake our heads in disbelief. Sometimes, I think some members of my family have a death wish. Those who are less healthy than the rest are always going out to go grocery shopping, and were among the first to go to the mall to buy unnecessary things (baby clothes, for example). Argh.

Anyway, in this “new normal” life, we need to be more vigilant. Many people will probably celebrating their freedom after being locked in for 2 months, but we need to be more careful. We have not totally kicked the virus in the butt, as the Korean and Chinese experiences show. Until we have a vaccine that works, the only weapon we have is enhanced vigilance.

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