BELGRADE, Serbia

Hungary’s prime minister said on Thursday it will not accept the European Union’s decision to open borders for 15 “safe countries,” with the exception of Serbia, citing health concerns amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“For now, we cannot support the EU’s request because that would be against the health interests of the Hungarian people,” Victor Orban said.

Hungary, which joined the EU in 2004, opened its borders to Serbian citizens early June.

This week the 27-member bloc added 14 states to the list of non-EU countries whose citizens can resume travel to the EU from July 1.

The countries are Serbia, Montenegro, Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China is also on the register, but only on the condition of reciprocal action by the Chinese authorities.

The list will be reviewed every two weeks and updated depending on the latest developments in each country.

Some nine Hungarian citizens tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours, increasing the number of infected people in the Central European country to 4,166 including 587 deaths and 2,721 recoveries.

While lockdown restrictions have been lifted, wearing a face mask is mandatory in shops and on public transport to maintain “epidemiological preparedness.”

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