Hungary dismisses EU border reopening recommendation

Budapest-Hungary will not comply with an EU recommendation to lift coronavirus travel restrictions for more countries outside the bloc, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Thursday, citing a risk to health.

The 27-member EU finalised Tuesday the list of countries where coronavirus infections were seen to be low enough to allow their citizens to enter the bloc starting on Wednesday.

“We cannot currently implement the EU’s request to allow in citizens from non-EU countries, with the exception of Serbia,” Orban said in a Facebook video message. Hungary reopened the border with neighbouring Serbia, which has a large ethnic-Hungarian population, in May.

But lifting travel restrictions to more nations outside the EU “would go against the healthcare interests of the Hungarian people,” Orban said. The countries that made it onto the EU list are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Japan, Georgia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay, and China if it reciprocates. Austria on Wednesday announced it would follow the EU recommendation but not for Serbia and Montenegro. Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia have not announced decisions on lifting restrictions since the EU’s recommendation.

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