Health care workers will be able to travel free on regional public transport, the Minister of State of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology said at the Operational Group’s Saturday online press conference.

Tamás Schanda said the Operational Group supported the Ministry’s proposal that, in recognition of their exemplary efforts amidst the epidemic, health care workers should be able to travel free on regional public transport, including the services of MÁV-Start, MÁV-HÉV, GYSEV, Volánbusz and other regional coach service providers until the end of the state of danger.

He also said the number of passengers had decreased spectacularly on public transport services which shows that people take seriously and comply with public health recommendations. He highlighted that the timetables of regional and commuter services would be adjusted, in harmony with the recently announced restrictions on movement. From 30 March until 10 April, all regional and commuter public transport service providers will change over to timetables applicable to off-school days, while on Saturdays and Sundays the usual weekend schedules will be in force. From 1 April, Volánbusz commuter services will travel according to Saturday service times.

He said they are coordinating the services of the railway company MÁV and the coach company Volánbusz, and will cancel national coach services solely satisfying long-distance travel needs which can be appropriately replaced with railway services. Without replacement, MÁV-Start will cancel international services which, due to the closure of the borders, would only travel within the country.

He pointed out that transport providers would accept public service travel certificates until the 15th day following the end of the state of danger, while in the case of persons with disabilities, they would dispense with the extension of expired travel documents.

He asked passengers to buy tickets via mobile applications wherever possible. He observed that Volánbusz, too, had suspended the possibility of buying tickets from drivers; a mobile application is now available. They are currently working on a version for persons with disabilities, and until it is made available blind and visually impaired persons can travel for free on Volánbusz services.

He also said they had authorised for Volánbusz to accept monthly travel passes for March until 15 April as mobile passes are expected to have been launched by then.

Mr Schanda said they are sending letters to the mayors of settlements informing them about these changes, and are asking them to also make these discounts available in local transport. He drew attention to the fact that also on public transport services passengers are required to keep a distance of 1.5 metres from others wherever possible, and if their travel cannot be delayed they are recommended to wash their hands and disinfect their clothing after the use of public transport vehicles.

Regarding the fact that on Friday there were delays at the border in cargo traffic, he said they had been resolved by the morning. Maintaining smooth cargo and goods traffic is a national security and supply security interest, he pointed out.

He highlighted that they were continuously monitoring cargo transport workers, and if after the medical examination the suspicion of coronavirus infection is determined, Hungarian nationals are required to retire to quarantine, while non-Hungarian nationals are not allowed to enter the country. However, healthy drivers can continue to work.

Regarding the attendance ban in higher education institutions, he stressed that the Ministry for Innovation and Technology had called upon the heads of institutions to continue to uphold the measures serving to protect health and to continue training in their institutions in the form of distance education.

He also said in Hungary there are no supply problems, empty shelves are due to the fact that the stacking of shelves is slower than normal. He added that they had simplified the regulations regarding the delivery of goods to stores, and were also making the hiring of new workers in retail simpler.

He indicated that they were continuously monitoring the quality and pricing of goods and products. In March, they conducted inspections in 500 outlets in total, and they are also monitoring online retailers.

(Ministry of Innovation and Technology/MTI)