Romanian authorities have launched an investigation into the increasing number of people crossing the border with Hungary on foot during the coronavirus outbreak, Minister of Interior Marcel Vela said on Wednesday.
He said that while crossing the border on foot is not illegal in itself, the formerly sporadic occurrences have become a mass phenomenon and the authorities will clamp down on if crossings prove to be organized.
Vela said that recently there has also been a major spike in people arriving in cars at the border, crossing it on foot, and then being picked up again by cars on the other side.
The interior minister said the problem with this is that while vehicles crossing the border are subject to strict scrutiny, pedestrians are usually waved across after a cursory check of their travel documents.
Romania closed its borders to international traffic on March 23, but on March 26, following an agreement between foreign ministries, both countries opened the border for daily commuters who work in the neighboring country.
The Hungarian-Romanian border is 447 kilometers long and features widespread cross-employment in the settlements adjacent to the border, as well as cross-border shopping by bargain-hunters. Hungary has similar arrangements with most other neighboring countries, except the Ukraine, with which traffic is mostly restricted to goods, and humanitarian and diplomatic missions.
According to the latest official count, Hungary has 585 confirmed coronavirus cases and Romania 2,460.
Title image: Medics take the temperature of a lorry driver and check the cabin of his truck at the Letenye checkpoint on April 1, 2020. (MTI/György Varga)