As of Wednesday, neither Hungarian nor Romanian nationals are obliged to go into mandatory home quarantine when traveling to and from each other’s countries. Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó made the announcement on Tuesday on his Facebook page.
As Szijjártó noted, the Democratic Alliance for Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym RMDSZ) asked the Hungarian government to try to reach an agreement with the Romanian side so that nationals of the two neighboring states could cross borders without having to face home isolation. Bilateral negotiations were expedited, and a conclusion was reached. Now, the obligation for Romanians to go into quarantine will cease. In his video announcement, Szijjártó also thanked RMDSZ for keeping the issue on the agenda.
Romania had already eased entry conditions for people arriving from Hungary as of June 15, while Romanians – until the bilateral agreement was reached – had been obliged to comply with mandatory isolation.
Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic even warned Hungary in his Tuesday cabinet meeting (before the agreement was reached) that he would submit a complaint to the European Commission, claiming that Hungarian authorities were acting “in a discriminating manner” towards Romanian citizens, restricting their travel to and across Hungary. Orban also claimed that “Hungary impairs the right of European Union nationals to move around freely, and uses restrictions that disadvantage mostly Romanians.”
The PM was criticizing the fact that Hungarian border police did not allow Romanian nationals to enter Hungary if they could not present originals of their employment contracts with companies in the Western European countries they were headed to. As Maszol.ro news portal pointed out, Orban forgot to mention that Romanian authorities were the first to close the smaller crossing points on the Hungarian-Romanian border when the spread of the coronavirus pandemic intensified in March, stating that they were redirecting border control personnel to bigger checkpoints.
Title image: Romania and Hungary have agreed on a bilateral removal of the obligation to go into home quarantine. Photo of Péter Szijjártó (L) and Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu (R) at their last official meeting.