Updated Sept. 21, 2020.
As many parts of the world continue to battle new Covid-19 outbreaks leaders have held off on further reopening or put in place new restrictions. In North America, Mexico and Canada have extended the closure of their borders with the United States until at least Oct. 21 (see below).
After much of the European bloc reopened its borders to select countries at the beginning of July, recent spikes have led many European countries to reintroduce measures to curb the spread of infection and reimpose travel restrictions on neighbors. Finland, Norway and the United Kingdom to require travelers returning from a number of countries to quarantine, while Ireland tightened its limits on gatherings and sporting events, and Italy has closed its nightclubs. In response Belgium's rise in cases, the country's leaders have introduced new restrictions, including the requirement that people wear masks in shops and on busy market streets.
As some destinations have largely contained the spread of Covid-19, a few have announced plans for again allowing business events to take place. Beginning Oct. 1, Singapore will permit approved business gathering of up to 250 participants (see below) while Dubai will reopen for international meetings on the same date (see below). Conferences and exhibitions are also expected to return to the United Kingdome on Oct. 1. A number of tourist destinations have moved forward on their reopenings, including Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, which recently announced new policies making it easier for travelers to visit (see below).
Reopening status in countries that banned or restricted events
Aruba opened to tourists from Europe, the Caribbean and Canada on July 1 and the U.S. on July 10, though all visitors are required to take a Covid-19 test prior to arrival or once they get to the Aruba airport. Those coming from a number of states must complete additional testing, uploading their negative results online within 72 hours before their flight. Travelers who choose to get tested at the airport will have to quarantine for up to 24 hours while awaiting results (which take an average of six to eight hours to come back), and those who test positive must remain in isolation until testing negative.
This country has slowly loosened lockdowns since its government announced a three-stage plan in May for easing restrictions, but upticks in cases have caused some areas to shelter in place again. Beginning Aug. 2, metropolitan Melbourne entered a six-week lockdown, with a mandatory mask requirement and only allowing residents to leave their homes for shopping for food and essential items, care and caregiving, daily exercise and work. Beginning Aug. 6, regional Victoria and Mitchell shire also entered lockdown. In the rest of the country, public gatherings range from up to 20 people in New South Wales to 100 in Queensland and 500 in Tasmania, with no limit in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
On July 1, the country joined with the rest of the EU in welcoming 15 additional countries from outside the region. On June 15, Austrian Airlines resumed flights to 20 destinations in Europe, and on June 16 eased travel restrictions for 31 European countries (for example, allowing visitors from most EU member states to enter without a medical certificate or quarantining). The latest updates can be found at Austria's travel portal. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited through the end of June, and social distancing of at least four feet is required between those who do not live in the same household. Larger shops and hairdressers began to reopen May 1, and restaurants and cafés started to welcome diners on May 15, while hotels began accepting guests May 29.
The Bahamas began reopening its borders for commercial travel on July 1. Visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result and a health visa, and have their temperatures checked. After barring Americans from entry earlier this month as COVID-19 cases resurged, the Bahamas is once again welcoming travelers from the United States, though Americans are required to complete a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
As cases have began to rise after reopening, the country's leaders enacted a rule requiring masks to be worn in stores and on public transit starting July 25, and residents returning from holidays must notify Belgian authorities 48 hours before their arrival. Belgium joined the rest of the EU in opening its borders to 15 additional non-EU countries beginning July 1, the same day it also reopened pools, amusement parks and theaters. On June 15, travelers from within the EU, as well as Britain, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, were again permitted to enter. Up to 200 people are allowed to attend indoor events and up to 400 people for outdoor gatherings.
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Anyone visiting Canada from a foreign country currently is required to undergo a 14-day quarantine, and international flights can arrive only in airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The border between Canada and the United States remains closed until at least Oct. 21. British Columbia began reopening in mid-May, allowing small social gatherings of up to 50 people, with hotels and resorts able to accept guests in June. Alberta entered stage 2 of its relaunch strategy on June 12, reopening retail businesses and permitting gatherings of up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Ontario entered stage 3 of its recovery plan on July 17, allowing for indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people, and restaurants and bars can offer outdoor dining. Starting Aug. 3, Quebec's premier began allowing public gatherings of up to 250 people.
The first country to be hobbled by COVID-19, China has been steadily reopening its economy, first its manufacturing sector and gradually expanding with the reopening of theme parks, hotels and other attractions returning, most recently cinemas and water parks.
Beginning Sept. 1, U.S. travelers will again be allowed to visit the country, as long as they are residents of New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont or Connecticut. More states are expected to be added soon after. Previously, on Aug. 1, Costa Rica reopened its borders to residents of the European Union and Schengen Zone, the United Kingdom, Canada, Uruguay, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, China, Australia and New Zealand.
July 1 saw the reopening of the country, along with the rest of the EU to 15 outside countries and following the reopening of the Polish-Czech border the day before. Beginning June 15, travelers from 20 European countries were again permitted entry here, following a color-coded system from "green" to "red," based on how severe the outbreak is in the country (those coming from "orange" and "red" countries — currently Spain and Romania — must present proof of a negative Coviid-19 test or must quarantine). Following a five-step reopening plan, on June 8, events of up to 500 people are now permitted and restaurants, bars and hotels have been fully reopened, with additional hygiene measures in place.
Travelers from all but six EU countries are now are permitted to enter the country, as long as they book for at least six nights, but they must quarantine if they are coming from a city of more than 750,000 people. Visitors from Sweden are still prohibited. After imposing a nationwide lockdown, Denmark began easing its restrictions, reopening shopping centers on May 11, restaurants and cafés on May 18, and permitting outdoor sports without spectators. Gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted, and larger gatherings are expected to be banned until at least August.
On Aug. 26, the Dominican Republic unveiled a new plan to encourage tourism while ensuring the health and safety of visitors and residents. At the end of September, those arriving to the island nation will be subject to random Covid-19 tests upon arrival — replacing the current negative Covid-19 test required for entry. Hotel guests will also receive temporary, complimentary insurance coverage for emergencies, telemedicine and more. Social-distancing and mask-wearing is currently required for all travelers.
After lifting the border restrictions for a number of Schengen and/or EU countries on July 13, this Scandinavian country has since reimposed travel restrictions. Due to rising cases, travelers coming from Iceland, Greece, Malta, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Cyprus, San Marino and Japan will be limited to essential trips beginning Aug. 24, with people returning from those countries required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Indoor and outdoor public events and public meetings with fewer than 50 attendees are allowed. Gatherings of up to 500 attendees are permitted if social distancing is ensured, and gatherings of more than 500 people are expected to be permitted beginning Aug. 31.
As cases have increased throughout the country, officials have mandated mask wearing throughout Paris and a number of other cities. On June 15, borders reopened to tourists from Britain, the EU and countries from the Schengen area. The country also joined the EU in welcoming travelers from 14 other countries beginning July 1, with a 14-day quarantine required. Restaurants and cafés in Paris have been allowed to reopen, phase 2 of France's plan that had already been in place June 2 in the rest of the country. Public gatherings still are limited to 10 or fewer people. Theaters, swimming pools and gyms began to welcome patrons on June 22, and the Louvre reopened on July 6. Public events of more than 5,000 people are banned until at least September.
At the end of August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel introduced draft legislation for a number of new measures to reverse the rising number of Covid-19 cases faced by the country, including a ban on large gatherings such as festivals, concerts and sporting events through the end of 2020. Private gatherings including meetings would be capped at 25 people, and mask rules would also be tightened. Previously, on June 15, restrictions were eased for travelers from the EU, Britain, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland (Spain was to be added to this list beginning June 21). The Austrian border has reopened, and on July 1, Germany joined the rest of the EU in welcoming travelers from 14 nearby countries. Shops have reopened across the country, with its 16 federal states individually determining the timing. Schools, businesses, restaurants, shops and museums have either gotten back to business or will very soon (following strict social-distancing rules). A flareup in coronavirus cases in late June led authorities to impose lockdowns in two counties — the first new restrictions since Germany began reopening in mid-May. Large events — including concerts, spectator sports and festivals — remain banned until at least the end of October, and the Berlin marathon has been cancelled this year. The latest travel information can be found here.
Greece began allowing visitors from 29 countries, including Japan, China, South Korea, Israel and numerous European nations, on June 15, again allowing international flights into Athens and Thessaloniki. These rules expanded to all airports in the country and opened up to 15 additional EU-approved countries on July 1, though Greece extended its travel ban on direct flights to the United Kingdom and Sweden until at least July 15. Selective COVID-19 tests will be conducted on arrival and visitors who test positive must quarantine for 14 days. Since June 6, indoor dining and bars have been allowed to reopen; on June 15, hotels, museums (including the Acropolis), gyms, spas and more were allowed to open their doors, with social-distancing rules still in place. Greece started allowing people on 500 of its beaches on May 16.
Beginning June 1, travelers were again allowed to transfer through Hong Kong International Airport, though it currently has no plans for reopening borders to foreigners, though it is discussing the creation of "travel bubble" with Macau and Guangdong province, in southern China. Restaurants have been allowed to reopen, as long as they collect "health declarations" at the door and five feet of space is maintained between tables, with no more than 50 percent occupancy.
Iceland began allowing international visitors from Europe's Schengen area on June 15, with the option of taking a COVID-19 test upon arrival or spending 14 days in quarantine. Restaurants, bars, gyms and night clubs have been allowed to reopen, and public gatherings of up to 200 people are permitted.
After loosening restrictions in June and reopening its borders in July, authorities in the Republic of Ireland have reimposed a number of restrictions as cases have spiked. Crowd capacity for outdoor events has been reduced from 200 to 15, while indoor gatherings will be limited to six and fans have been banned from sporting events. The country has twice postponed moving into stage 4 of its five-stage reopening, at which time nightclubs, casinos and pubs will open.
After loosening many of its restrictions on businesses and gatherings following a nearly four-month lockdown, the Italian government has reimposed a few restrictions in the face of rising cases. Nightclubs have been closed and mask wearing is now required even in outdoor areas. Beginning June 3, regional and international travel from the EU, the United Kingdom and the Schengen area began to be allowed, without the requirement of a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. But on Aug. 12, at least three Italian regions introduced a 14-day quarantine requirement on residents returning from EU countries with rising cases, including Greece, Spain and Malta. Quarantine is still required for anyone else arriving in Italy from any non-European countries. A ban on gatherings and the requirement to wear masks on public transportation remain in place. On July 8, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express returned to the railways.
On June 15, the country began welcoming international visitors, conducting on-site health screenings at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. Jamaica's government had previously announced a five-point recovery plan that will stagger the reopening of its attractions. Every hotel is required to designate a "COVID-19 safety point person" who conducts spot checks. Restaurants are open at 70 percent capacity, and gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted.
Japan currently is refusing entry to non-Japanese people who have been to any of more than 100 countries across the world within the past 14 days, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea, China and most European countries (including the United Kingdom), except under special circumstances. All restrictions on travel between prefectures were lifted on June 19. However, increasing infection numbers have prompted the Okinawa and Aichi prefectures to declare states of emergency again until Aug. 29 and 24, respectively. Since mid-May, attractions and businesses have begun to reopen, with Tokyo now moving to the final stage, allowing entertainment and recreation venues to reopen, and permitting public events of up to 1,000 people. On June 3, the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau released its "Guidelines for MICE Event Organizers for Infectious Disease Control," providing a detailed checklist for planners of meetings for before, during and after the event. These measures include "collaborative preparation with venues and associate companies," "prevent close-contact settings" (complete with sample layout) and more.
Mexican authorities have extended the closure of the U.S.–Mexico border until at least Oct. 21. Most of the country's tourist destinations have reopened to visitors, with some restrictions. The state of Quintana Roo began implementing the WTTC's "Safe Travels" health and safety standards for tourism-related businesses, including hotels, restaurants, bars and tour companies, requiring businesses to receive a certification indicating that it has met these standards before reopening. Beaches in the state are currently closed to all but resort guests. Los Cabos reopened to tourists June 15 and has been following its "A Safer Way to Get Away" plan, with destinationwide guidelines and certifications, and a partnership with Intertek Cristal's Protek Destination Assurance program. Mexico City continues to reopen, as businesses including bars, cinemas, public pools and museums now allowed to open, despite an uptick in cases.
With a relatively low number of cases compared with other European destinations, the Netherlands on July 1 raised the limit on indoor gatherings to 100 people, and reopened gyms, casinos and contact sports. Public transport is also running, though riders are expected to wear face masks. On June 15, the country reopened its borders to tourists in 30 countries, including those in the EU and Schengen area and, along with the rest of the EU, reopened to 15 outside countries on July 1. The latest updates can be found here.
After enacting some of the most stringent lockdown measures in the world, New Zealand had lifted restrictions on June 8, and went on to report more than 100 days without community transmission of the virus. But a recent resurgence of cases has led officials to raise Auckland to Alert Level 3, restricting how businesses interact with customers and limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer, while the rest of the country remains on Alert Level 2, allowing for gatherings of up to 100 people. Physical-distancing measures and tight border controls will remain. On June 3, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that when the country shifts down to Alert Level 1, all current restrictions on businesses and gatherings will be essentially lifted.
As cases have risen throughout Europe, Norway has introduced requirements that travelers arriving from Britain, Austria, Greece and Ireland, as well as the city of Copenhagen must quarantine for 10 days. On May 7, the limit to group size was increased from a maximum of five to 20, as long as individuals remained at least three feet apart. Events of up to 200 participants at a time are now allowed in public places, and most businesses (including gyms, water parks and bars) are again open.
After locking down early to stop the spread of Covid-19 and using a high rate of testing, the country currently is allowing visitors from EU nations as well as additional countries such as Australia, Canada and Japan. Most businesses are now open, including bars and nightclubs (though dance floors are prohibited), hotels and tourist services, following Turismo de Portugal's Clean and Safe certification program. Social gatherings of up to 20 people are permitted, as well as outdoor shows when social distancing can be followed. On July 1, the border between Spain and Portugal was reopened after being closed for more than three months. People are now able to access many of Portugal's beaches.
Since March 12, Scotland has remained under stringent lockdown, though First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to announce on May 19 that the country would soon begin loosening restrictions on outdoor activities such as golf, fishing and tennis, as well as allowing outdoor garden and recycling centers to reopen.
The island nation, which has been closed to international visitors since March 23, began the phased reopening of its tourism sector on June 4, with limited activities available when booked through registered hotels and travel providers. Hotels are required to meet specific sanitation and social-distancing criteria, and visitors will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of their flight, and they must use face masks and follow other precautions. Phase 2 should begin Aug. 1, with details expected to be released soon.
Currently, the Singapore Tourism Board allows business events of up to 50 people to take place, with the permission of the board and following specific risk-mitigation measures. On Sept. 7, organizers opened up applications for planners seeking permission to hold gatherings of up to 250 people beginning Oct. 1. Previously, on July 1, Singapore began reopening its tourism sector as 13 major attractions started operating at 25 percent capacity. On June 19, the city-state entered phase 2 of reopening, following its "circuit breaker" instituted after a jump in new COVID-19 cases. At this time, indoor dining and drinking is allowed, retail businesses can reopen and gatherings of up to five people are allowed. The Singapore Tourism Board has launched the SG Clean initiative to audit the sanitation practices of all types of facilities; those that put the measures in place will earn a certification from the STB.
After reducing the numbers of new cases, the government began to loosen its strict social-distancing rules on May 6. But a spike in new cases led officials to enforce stronger social-distancing restrictions for Seoul, Incheon and the nearby Gyeonggi province, prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. High-risk locations including nightclubs, karaoke rooms and computer gaming cafés have been closed.
On Sept. 8, Spain became the first European country to surpass half a million Covid-19 cases, so the country's leaders have paused some of their reopening plans, closing night clubs and late-night bars, while prohibiting outside drinking and smoking in a number of regions, as well as expanding its mask mandate beyond public transportation. On July 1, the land border between Spain and Portugal had been reopened after being closed for more than three months, and on July 4, the country began allowing entry to residents of 12 non-EU countries, including Japan, Australia and Canada. Most of the country entered phase 4 as the country's declaration of national emergency ended on June 21, with restaurants, hotels and stores all operating with capacity limits and maximums on gatherings varying by region; citizens are able to travel freely throughout the country.
Unlike other countries in the region, Sweden's government avoided a significant lockdown, leaving shops, restaurants and bars open, while banning gatherings of 50 people or more and asking that citizens voluntarily keep their distance from one another.
On June 15, Switzerland opened its borders with Austria, France and Germany. One of the first countries to ban large events and among the first nations to see an ebb in new cases, Switzerland began easing its lockdown restrictions earlier than expected. Bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen on May 11 rather than June 8, as originally planned. Schools, museums, gyms and libraries also started welcoming patrons on May 11. Public and private events of up to 300 people as well as "spontaneous gatherings" of up to 30 people are allowed. Officials expect travel restrictions within the Schengen area will also be largely lifted July 6.
United Arab Emirates
On Oct. 1, Dubai will again permit international meetings to take place in the city. The destination's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing has released guidelines for safely hosting business events, including precautions that should be taken by travelers on their flights, at the airport, at their hotels and while taking part in the event itself. Previously, on July 7, Dubai had welcomed its first international tourists since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit. The city's leaders emphasized that the multipronged health and safety measures put in place across the destination have helped position it as a safe and attractive destination as visitors cautiously resume their travel. Dubai has already reopened its gyms, theaters and retail shops, and citizens and residents are now permitted to travel oversees. On June 24, Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism reopened a number of the destination's cultural sites to tourists, following strict health and safety guidelines. These include Louvre Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn, and the Cultural Foundation’s exhibition and Artists in Residence studio. Also reopening will be Al Ain Oasis outdoor areas, Qasr Al Muwaiji, Al Jahili Fort and Al Ain Palace Museum. The organization has also introduced a destination-wide hygiene and safety initiative, called the Go Safe Certification program.
As the country has seen a rise in cases brought in from outside the U.K., officials have required those returning from several countries, including France, the Netherlands and Spain, and most recently Switzerland and Czech Republic, to quarantine for 14 days upon reentering. On July 31, Prime Minister Boris Johnson paused the country's loosening of restrictions outlined in his three-step Our Plan to Rebuild, halting the reopening of leisure venues like bowling alleys and casinos, and has not eased restrictions on indoor performances and close-contact services. Johnson also expanded the country's mask requirements beyond shops and public transport to other indoor settings like museums and cinemas.
England is planning to welcome back business events, exhibitions and conferences beginning Oct. 1, as long as the latest health data and local authorities support the resumption. Ahead of this, Olympia London has unveiled specific guidelines for group gatherings and the measures the venue is taking regarding cleaning, social distancing between attendees and more. Chris Skeith, CEO of the Association of Event Organisers, who, working leaders from the Association of Event Venues and the Event Supplier and Services Association, had been one of the most vocal advocates for resuming business events in the U.K., stated, "Organizers, venues and suppliers have worked tirelessly to create COVID-19-safe guidelines, which create the framework for the safe reopening of exhibitions in a COVID-secure way... With a 'go date,' our exhibitors and visitors will now be able to restart their planning."