Pastor David Illes of Reformed Church gives his sermon during a drive-in Sunday church service on the morning of May 3 in a P + R car park in the outskirts of Budapest. While fully respecting the protective measures against the coronavirus epidemic, members of the congregations were able to meet not only via Youtube stream and Zoom, but also in person. Although church members only greeted each other from the safe distance of their cars, for many it felt like freedom they haven’t experienced for a long time.

The New Norm

Within a few months only, the coronavirus named “SARS-COV-2” has pushed the whole World into such a crisis, that humanity hasn’t perhaps seen since World War II. Our lives practically changed from one moment to the other. A new order stepped in, along with many new terms. Social distancing, curfew, lockdown of cities, travel ban, closed borders, rapid tests, the use of a mask and the regular disinfecting, all became the tools against an invisible enemy. Social distancing has become the new norm in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and this norm may well become the basis of the next few years’ Life. This however, is not as easy as it seems, as it goes against people’s natural need for social connection. This distancing also puts to the test people’s capacity to cooperate. The pandemic is especially challenging, as we not only aim to protect those whom we know, but also those who we don’t, and whose condition we’re not usually concerned with. Resulting from social distancing, limited personal relationships affect the psychic well-being of people as well. The pandemic is a great threat not only to physical, but also to mental health. So far it is very difficult to predict how long the pandemic will last. According to some research, social distancing and other restrictions should be maintained for up to another year. Earlier epidemiological experts had stated that, even if the coronavirus would momentarily disappear during the summer, it would come back during autumn. This was eventually confirmed, and the second and now the third wave is now more powerful than the first one. We can be certain that a totally new World is beginning in which economic damages will be significant, with a strong impact on the years ahead. In all likelihood, this is the World War of our generation. The COVID-19 pandemic has already changed our lives and the outbreak has highlighted many issues in our societies. Since last year, I have been following and documenting the impact of COVID-19 in Hungary to create a personal photo essay of Hungarian society during a time of the pandemic

Simon Moricz-Sabjan

professional photographer
Simon Móricz-Sabján was born in Kiskunhalas, Hungary in 1980. He is an award-winning photojournalist and documentary photographer living in Budapest, Hungary. Since 2016 he is the official photographer of the Hungarian daily business newspaper Világgazdaság and the monthly business magazine Manager Magazin. Between 2003 and 2016 he worked for Népszabadság, the largest Hungarian independent daily political newspaper which was closed down in October 2016. Apart from his job Simon works on personal projects as well, dedicating a lot of time to develop his personal material, working on photo essays for years in some cases. May it be a social issue or just everyday stories, his main focus is the human being and his surroundings. Simon’s work has been recognized by many photography awards. He has won first prizes at the China International Press Photo Contest on two occasions, as well as multiple awards from Pictures of the Year International (POYi), NPPA Best of Photojournalism, Prix International de la Photographie, PDN, iPhone Photography Awards, Ringier Photo Award, Kolga Tbilisi Photo Award and FCBarcelona Photo Award. Among other acknowledgments, he won prizes at Hungarian Press Photo competitions on 37 occasions, including two Grand Prizes of the Association of Hungarian Journalists; five Munkácsi Márton Awards for the best collections; three awards for photographers under 30; the best press photographer award; and two Escher Károly Prizes for the best news photo. Three times winner of József Pécsi scholarship (for talented young art photographers), five times winner of NKA scholarship; he won the Budapest Photography Scholarship in 2012, the Népszabadság Grand Prize in 2013, and the Hemző Károly Prize in 2015. His photos have been exhibited in numerous galleries including the Hungarian National Museum; Mai Manó House (Hungarian House of Photography); Kunsthalle Budapest; Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center; Palace of Arts, Budapest; The Castle Garden Bazaar, Budapest; Kolga Tbilisi Photo, Tbilisi; POYi, Denver; Expo Milano; Art Gallery Ilia Beshkov, Pleven; Archives Museum, Chengdu; Festival Voies Off, Arles; Museu Agbar de les Aigües, Barcelona; Mies, Switzerland; National Museum, Warsaw. He is a founding member of Pictorial Collective, a group of Hungarian photojournalists.