On October 28, 2021, the Hungarian Government introduced new measures to combat the growing COVID-19 numbers. The changes were detailed in the Hungarian Gazette. The primary changes introduced include:
- masks will become mandatory on public transit; and
- employers may require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (with some exceptions).
These changes are planned to go into effect on November 1, 2021. Additional information is provided below on the exceptions and restrictions of how these changes will be implemented.
- Mandatory Mask Usage on Public Transit
Government Decree 597/2021. (X. 28.) was published in the Hungarian Gazette which amended Government Decree No. 484/2020 on the second phase of protection measures to be applied in the event of an emergency (hereinafter: “GD 597/2021”). Accordingly, from November 1, 2021, the usage of masks on public transport will be re-introduced. The scope of these changes extend to passengers travelling on public transit and personnel working on public transit. Masks will also be required while at railway stations, bus stops, and terminals that are open to passenger traffic.
These changes do not extend to minors under the age of six (6) and individuals with mental or psychosocial disabilities. A person without a mask on public transit will be asked by transit representatives to exit the vehicle, train, or tram and an action will be initiated against them by the respective police precinct.
2. Requiring Proof of Vaccination Status
Government Decree No. 598/2021 (X. 28.) on the protection of workplace(s) against coronavirus (hereinafter: “GD 598/2021”) aims to ensure that from November 1, 2021, companies and other entities have the right to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination (hereinafter: “Proof of Vaccination”) as a condition of work for employees if they deem it necessary for the safety of the workplace.
In order to protect employees, an employer may – depending on the specifics of the workplace and the job – require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of work for employees not previously vaccinated.
After requiring an employee to get vaccinated, the employer can also set a deadline for the employee to receive the vaccine which must be at least 45 (forty-five) for a single-dose vaccine. In this scenario, the employee must receive their first dose within the 45 (forty-five) day period. For a two-dose vaccine, the same time limit applies for the first dose, and administration of the second dose will be determined by the doctor.
With the introduction of GD 598/2021, if the employer deems it necessary, they may require employees to present Proof of Vaccination.
If an employee was ordered to receive their vaccine and obtain Proof of Vaccination and they fail to do so within the deadline set by the employer, the employer can order unpaid leave immediately upon the expiration of the deadline. If an employee receives their Vaccine and obtains Proof of Vaccination, they employer must terminate the unpaid leave immediately.
If after one (1) year, an employee who was ordered to obtain their vaccine has failed to do so, they may be dismissed or terminated with immediate effect. In lieu of the vaccine, the employee can also obtain a medical opinion that states that they are not able to receive the vaccine due to pre-existing medical conditions.
Employees working for state run institution are required by law to take the vaccine, while in case of employees engaged by local Governments, it will be at the discretion of the mayors of the respective area to decide whether the employees are to undergo mandatory vaccination.