Hungary curbs inbound travel, bans public gatherings over coronavirus

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary on Wednesday banned inbound travel from Italy, South Korea, Iran and China for non-Hungarians in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The ban on travel from the four most heavily-affected countries will come into effect immediately, Premier Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, told a news briefing.

Hungarian universities will also be closed and public gatherings of more than 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors will be banned, he said.

The restrictions will remain in place until further notice, Gulyas said, adding the government expected the epidemic’s impact to last months rather than weeks.

Gulyas said one of the main goals was to stop the epidemic from spreading from Italy toward Hungary via Austria. Budapest will ban bus and train traffic from those areas as well as flights from the hardest-hit countries, he said.

Italy has been placed under lockdown until next month.

Hungary does not share a border with Italy but is hugely popular with Italian tourists and many Hungarians travel to northern Italy.

Austria said on Tuesday it was introducing border checks and would deny entry to people arriving from Italy.

Hungary has 13 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but no one has died so far.

Reporting by Marton Dunai; editing by John Stonestreet and Angus MacSwan