Updated July 13, 2020.
As much of the world continues to battle COVID-19 outbreaks, leaders in a growing number of destinations have been able to loosen travel and meeting restrictions. On July 7, Dubai received its first group of international tourists (see more below). On July 1, much of Europe reopened its borders to 14 countries, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, while travelers from China will be permitted when China reciprocates. The United States, which now has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, was conspicuously excluded from this list, along with countries such as Brazil and Russia. Officials for the 27-country European bloc stated that the list of safe countries will be reviewed every two weeks and updated in response to the latest data concerning coronavirus outbreaks in each nation. Exceptions are being made for health-care workers, diplomats, humanitarian workers, transit passengers, asylum seekers, students and "passengers traveling for imperative family reasons."
July 1 also saw the reopening of Caribbean destinations, including Aruba and the Bahamas, to outside visitors, while more than a dozen tourist attractions in Singapore began welcoming guests. But in China, a surge of cases has led to a retightening of restrictions in Beijing. Below we are tracking the latest updates on both the imposition and easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Reopening status in countries that banned or restricted events
With a relatively small number of COVID-19 cases, the Aruba government began welcoming tourists beginning June 15, and on July 1, opened up to visitors from the nearby Caribbean islands of Curaçao and Bonaire, as as well as from Canada and Europe. Americans are expected to be allowed to visit starting July 10. All visitors are required to take a COVID-19 test prior to arrival or once they get to the Aruba airport. Nonessential businesses -- including shopping malls, cinemas, beauty salons, and indoor and outdoor restaurants -- were allowed to reopen on May 25, with social-distancing rules in place.
The country has been moving forward on Prime Minister Scott Morrison's three-step plan for gradual reopening, as pubs now are welcoming people and larger gatherings are allowed. Step 1 permits business gatherings of up to 10 people, and the opening of restaurants and cafés. Large venues in Western Australia can now host up to 300 people, while outdoor gatherings in hard-hit New South Wales and Queensland are still limited to 10 people or fewer. The timing of each phase is left up to Australia's individual states and territories, with the economy expected to fully reopen sometime in July. But as cases in South Australia spiked toward the end of June, a planned July 20 reopening of the border between the region and Victoria was put on hold and the city of Melbourne returned to stage 3 lockdown, in which residents cannot leave their homes unless it is for care or medical reasons, or shopping for essentials.
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 will ease 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 has begun phase 2 of its five-stage plan, reopening its borders for commercial travel on July 1; visitors are required to present a negative COVID-19 test and a health visa, and have their temperatures checked. Beginning July 13, the destination will enter phase 3, which allows attractions, excursions and tours to get back to business. Phase 4, which begins July 27, will allow vendors and jet-ski operators to reopen.
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 is currently required to undergo a 14-day quarantine, and international flights are restricted to airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The border between Canada and the United States remains closed until at least July 21. British Columbia began reopening in mid-May, including "small social gatherings" of up to 50 people, with hotels and resorts allowed 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 2 of its recovery plan on June 12, allowing gatherings of up to 10 people, and restaurants and bars can offer outdoor dining. On June 15, Quebec's premier began allowing indoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people and the reopening of restaurants in most regions.
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, at limited capacity. Despite a surge in cases in Beijing in late June, new cases have since been reduced to single digits and local virus transmission all but eliminated. The country has resumed international flights.
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 are still prohibited from entering without an exemption from the Ministry of Health and submission of a medical certificate). 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.
Since June 15, Finland has allowed leisure travelers from Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway. On July 13, the Scandinavian country is expected to lift the border restrictions for the Schengen and/or EU countries of Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Greece, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Liechtenstein. 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. 1.
On June 15, borders reopened to tourists from Britain, the EU and countries from the Schengen area. The country also has 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 taken 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 again welcome patrons on June 22 and on July 6, the Louvre is expected to reopen. Public events of more than 5,000 people are banned until at least September.
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. Hong Kong Disneyland, one of the destination's major attractions, reopened on June 18.
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.
The Republic of Ireland's nationwide shutdown, in place since March 12, moved into its second of five stages for reopening on June 8, with shops allowed to welcome patrons on staggered schedules, followed by shopping malls. This will was followed by cafés, pubs, restaurants and social gatherings on June 29. Festivals and cultural gatherings will be allowed on Aug. 10. Groups of up to six people can meet, and up to 15 for outdoor sporting activities. The final phase, in which indoor gatherings of 100 people and outdoor gatherings of 500 people will be permitted, is set for July 20.
After the Italian government quarantined the entire country beginning March 9, restrictions in the areas that were not as hard hit were loosened on May 18 with the reopening of a limited number of shops, businesses, museums and churches; social-distancing rules remain in place. On 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 a ban on gatherings and the requirement to wear masks on public transportation remain in place. On July 8, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is scheduled to return 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.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the country's state of emergency on May 25, though residents have been advised to avoid nonessential travel in and out of the country's hardest-hit prefectures, including Tokyo, through June 18. Remaining domestic-travel restrictions are expected to lift at that time. 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 and corporate events, for before, during and after the event. These measures include "Collaborative preparation with venues and associate companies," "Prevent close-contact settings" (complete with layout charts) and more.
Following a seven-week lockdown, Mexico's government began lifting quarantine restrictions on hundreds of counties on May 18, and by June 15, half of the country's 32 states had begun limited reopenings of hotels and restaurants. On June 8, the governor of Quintana Roo, the state home of Cancún, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya, began reopening hotels, resorts and golf courses. Meanwhile, the Los Cabos Tourism Board is following a five-phase plan that will not welcome visitors until July at the earliest. On June 29, Mexico City began allowing restaurants, shops and hotels to operate at one-third capacity. This is expected to expand to shopping malls and department stores on July 6.
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 most stringent lockdown measures in the world, New Zealand has moved to Alert Level 2, beginning a monthlong relaxation of its restrictions, allowing all businesses to reopen, dining in restaurants and reopening schools. Physical-distancing measures and tight border controls will remain. Social gatherings and business gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed. On June 3, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that when the country shifts down to Alert Level 1 — as early as June 8 if the number of cases continues trending downward — all current restrictions on businesses and gatherings will be "essentially lifted."
"We want people to understand business events are the safest type of event you can hold, because they are highly organized and managed by professionals who work under strict codes of practice," Conventions and Incentives New Zealand chief executive Lisa Hopkins said in response to the announcement. "Our message is it is safe to hold a conference, seminar, workshop, incentive travel event and gala dinner under already-developed and enhanced track, tracing, health and hygiene standards. We will also be working with the broader events sector to develop a voluntary code, to support New Zealand’s efforts in the key area of public health."
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 50 participants are now allowed in public places. On June 15, events of up to 200 people are expected to start being allowed, as most businesses (including gyms, water parks and bars) will again be open.
After locking down early to stop the spread of COVID-19 and using a high rate of testing, the country has now shifted to reopening, beginning with hair salons and small shops, then larger shops, museums, daycare centers and restaurants, followed by shopping malls, preschools, cinemas and houses of worship. On July 1, the border between Spain and Portugal was reopened after being closed for more than three months. Many of Portugal's beaches also have opened up.
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.
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 Seoul's mayor to ban large crowds and shut down more than 2,100 bars and nightclubs on May 9.
After being under strict lockdown since March 14, Spain launched a four-phased reopening plan on May 4 and on June 21, most of the country entered phase 4 as the country's declaration of national emergency ended and it entered a "new normal." Restaurants, hotels and stores have all reopened, with capacity limits and maximums on gatherings varying by region; citizens are able to travel freely throughout the country. On July 1, the land border between Spain and Portugal was 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.
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 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. On July 7, Dubai welcomed its first set of 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. On July 16, the Dubai World Trade Centre will celebrate the return of live events with the Ai Everything x Restart Dubai Summer Conference, which will celebrate the UAE’s artificial intelligence efforts during the pandemic. Dubai has already reopened its gyms, theaters and retail shops, and citizens and residents are now permitted to travel oversees.
Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's three-step Our Plan to Rebuild, on June 15, all shops in England were allowed to reopen and gatherings of up to six people were permitted. Step 3, which will begin on July 4 if five tests related to death, hospitalization rates and public-health capacity are met; at that time restaurants, hairdressers, houses of worship, pubs and theaters will be allowed to resume business.