Budapest’s Coronavirus Shutdown

As expected, the government here in Hungary have introduced swingeing new measures to halt the spread of coronavirus, the biggest ones being a ban on entering the country from Italy, Iran, China and South Korea, and restrictions at the Austrian and Slovenian borders. Universities will hold remote classes, whilst making false statements about viral infection could result in prosecution. Employees have been asked to work from home where possible.

For life within Budapest though, it’s the ban on public events of 100 people (indoor) and 500 people (outdoor) that will have the biggest day-to-day effect for us sociable go-getter types, especially those without family here.

Szimpla and other large bars will be closed until further notice.

The larger ruin bars such as Szimpla and Instant have already announced their closures (and – one can only hope – some much needed deep-cleaning and toilet upgrades), whilst cinemas and theatres will also shut for the duration of the ban.

So how does this affect the footy? Well despite the usual attendance jokes (“500 people max? No problems for the games here then.”), the city’s big clubs will all be strutting their stuff behind closed doors for the foreseeable.

For league leaders Ferencvaros, playing without their home support for the game against bottom placed Kaposvar shouldn’t affect things too much. Ujpest will feel a little more nervous though: they have a vital relegation 6-pointer at home to Paks. Honved will remain Honved, Honveding away in mid-table.

But the impact may be greatest in the second division. MTK vs. Vasas is the weekend’s big Budapest derby as well as a meeting of first place versus third (one which I had tickets for and thus am very pissed off about missing). Will the lack of home support derail MTK’s march towards promotion, especially given their uneven form? Vasas are on a five-game winning run and may relish the newly-quietened Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium. Or could second placed Budafoki be the beneficiaries of all this disruption? They are used to playing in front of one man and his dog after all…

There’s a lot of uncertainty about future restrictions and things could change at any moment. If you were planning a Budapest trip, it may be better to put it off for the time being.

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