• Red Cross aid workers handed out water to those waiting, including elderly people and children, as traffic backed up at the Nickelsdorf border crossing, eastern Austria.
  • Budapest said it agreed with police chiefs in Austria and Romania to temporarily open the border late Tuesday.
  • The move was “exceptional" and a “one-off," he said.

BUDAPEST: Hungary said Tuesday it will open a humanitarian corridor to allow thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians stranded at its Austrian frontier to return home after Budapest closed borders to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu earlier urged Vienna and Budapest in a statement to let some 3,500 Romanian citizens travel home via a “humanitarian corridor".

Red Cross aid workers handed out water to those waiting, including elderly people and children, as traffic backed up at the Nickelsdorf border crossing, eastern Austria.

Queues were 20 kilometres-long (13 miles) for trucks and 10-kilometres (6 miles) for cars, according to Austrian police.

Bucharest said that Hungary did not give enough notice of its closure late-Monday of borders to foreigners, including thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians already en route for home from western EU countries.

“It caused a sensitive situation," said Aurescu.

Budapest said it agreed with police chiefs in Austria and Romania to temporarily open the border late Tuesday.

“Between 21:00 and 24:00 (20:00 and 23:00 GMT), Romanian and Bulgarian citizens will be able to transit Hungary in humanitarian corridors," said Tibor Lakatos, head of a Hungarian government COVID-19 taskforce.

The move was “exceptional" and a “one-off," he said.