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Updated July 22, 2021
As many parts of the world continue to battle coronavirus outbreaks, some leaders have paused the reopening process and announced new constraints on travel and gatherings. At the same time, other countries are easing their restrictions. Here's a roundup
of what's happening around the globe.
In the latest news, New Zealand has suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia, where lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne have been extended.
Meanwhile, U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada will remain closed to nonessential travel through Aug. 21. The announcement from the White House comes just two days after Canada said it would allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents to enter the country on Aug. 9, with plans to ease travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors from all countries in September.
The U.S. Travel Association is not happy with this news. “Every day that our borders remain closed further delays our industry’s recovery, causing greater damage to the millions of Americans whose livelihoods depend on travel. The continued closure of the Canadian border alone costs the U.S. economy $1.5 billion in potential travel exports each month," said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs and policy for U.S. Travel. “Given the strong vaccination rates on both sides of the border, it is possible to safely reopen to our No. 1 source market for international visitors. Land travel accounted for more than half of all overnight visits to the U.S. by Canadians prepandemic, generating significant travel exports that support vital American jobs."
Also this week, Ireland has opened its borders to fully vaccinated U.S. travelers. Singapore will revert to its phase-two measures and has lowered its capacities for gatherings. England has fully reopened and lifted all gathering restrictions, in spite of a surge in Covid-19 cases, with the number of positive test results up 41 percent from the prior week. Updates to the U.K.'s traffic-light system for travel have also been implemented (watch Northstar's editors discuss England's reopening, along with staffing challenges and other issues affecting meetings and travel recovery in the latest installment of our new video series).
Also in Europe, the Netherlands has temporarily tightened Covid-19 measures and will only permit events with assigned seating. France has lifted most restrictions but will require that health certificates be used at meetings, cafés, restaurants, theaters and more.
We are also constantly updating our list of state-by-state gathering restrictions.
Reopening status in countries that banned or restricted events
Aruba eased travel restrictions on July 14, with fully vaccinated U.S. residents no longer required to take a Covid-19 test prior to entry. In order to qualify, travelers must be U.S. residents who have received the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. At least two weeks must have passed from their last vaccine dose. Eligible visitors must also complete the SMART Health Card vaccine record, within Aruba's CommonPass health app. All other travelers are required to take a Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior to travel. On July 5, the government lifted all Covid-19 restrictions, although businesses have the right to require face masks. More details are available on the Aruba Convention Bureau's website.
Covid-19 restrictions vary across the country. In response to rising cases of the delta variant, a lockdown in Victoria state, which includes the city of Melbourne, has been extended. A deadline for when the lockdown will be lifted has not yet been announced. Officials have also extended a lockdown in Greater Sydney until at least July 30. Under the stay-at-home orders, residents can only leave their homes for essential reasons and gatherings have been banned.
Australia's borders remain closed and a quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand has been suspended until at least September. Only Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members and travelers who have been in New Zealand for at least 14 days prior to the date of departure can enter the country. Visitors are required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior of departure. Travel updates can be found on the Australian Department of Health's website.
A lockdown remains in effect until Jan. 24. Residents are required to stay home except for essential reasons. Culture and leisure facilities have been ordered to close, and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery. Events have been cancelled and
hotels can only serve essential travelers; leisure travel is not allowed. The latest reopening updates can be found at Austria's travel portal.
As of May 1, fully vaccinated travelers are no longer required to undergo Covid-19 testing before or after arriving in the Bahamas. Visitors must still apply for the Bahamas Travel Health Visa, which includes Covid-19 health insurance for the duration
of their stay, and they must upload proof of vaccination. Travelers are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, or two weeks after their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson
vaccine. Travel updates can be found on the Islands of the Bahamas website.
Belgium entered a second lockdown on Nov. 2, which is expected to last until Dec. 13. During this time, nonessential shops and businesses must close. Employees are encouraged to work from home and public gatherings are limited to a maximum of four people.
Bars and restaurants, which had been ordered to close for one month on Oct. 7, will remain shuttered for the duration of the lockdown. As cases began to rise after reopening, the country's leaders enacted a rule requiring masks to be worn in stores and on public transit, and residents returning from holidays must notify Belgian authorities 48 hours before their arrival.
Safety First: Planner Musts for In-Person Meetings
The return of in-person meetings is well underway, but Covid-19 remains a risk in group settings. Northstar Meetings Group's latest research report considers the complete range of health and safety services relevant to meetings of all sizes and types, and provides comprehensive insights as to the safety measures planners intend to implement. Download it here.
The U.S. land border with Canada will remain closed to nonessential travel through Aug. 21. However, fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents currently living in the United States will be allowed to enter Canada for nonessential travel, beginning Aug. 9. Eligible travelers must meet Canada's pre-entry testing requirements, be asymptomatic upon arrival and upload their vaccination information to the ArriveCAN system. More details can be found on the Canadian government's website. The country also announced plans to open up its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from all countries on Sept. 7, as long as Canada's Covid-19 cases remain stable.
Many provinces and territories have restricted gathering sizes.
The Canadian government has also released a risk mitigation tool for event
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.
Most restrictions in the Czech Republic have been lifted. Museums, galleries and theaters have all reopened, and indoor dining has resumed with safety protocols in place. The latest updates on meetings and travel can be found on Czech Tourism's website.
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.
The Dominican Republic's Ministry of Tourism and Public Health offers free antigen testing to all international visitors staying at a hotel. The rapid tests are administered by health professionals at the hotels. The destination
also extended its free health coverage plan for all tourists arriving on commercial flights and staying at a hotel until June 12, 2021. The plan covers covers
all medical emergencies, including those caused in the event of an infection or exposure to Covid-19 while in the country. Since last September, travelers arriving to the island nation have been subject to random Covid-19 tests upon arrival. Passengers
are also required to complete an electronic entry and exit form in order to enter.
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.
France has lifted most Covid-19 restrictions, but masks are still required in indoor public spaces and Covid-19 passports are mandatory for events with more than 1,000 people. Attendees must show that they are fully vaccinated, have received a negative Covid-19 test result within the last 48 hours or have fully recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months. President Emmanuel Macron announced that health certificates will also be used in cafés, restaurants, theaters and on long-distance trains, beginning in August.
The country has implemented a new traffic-light system for travel, which allows vaccinated travelers from green and orange countries to enter without completing a Covid-19 test. Travelers from red-light countries must have an essential reason for traveling, complete a Covid-19 test before departure as well as on arrival, and quarantine for seven days if fully vaccinated or 10 days if not vaccinated.
Germany has reopened its borders to American citizens. In order to enter the country, travelers must present proof of full vaccination, proof of recovery from Covid-19 within the past six months or a negative Covid-19 test taken prior to departure. Restrictions vary across the country, depending on regional Covid-19 rates.
Greece has lifted quarantine restrictions for travelers from all EU member states, Britain, the U.S., the United Arab Emirates,
Serbia and Israel. Non-EU members Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland that are part of a European travel pact are also exempt. As of April 19, any travelers flying into Greece from one of these countries are no longer required to complete
a seven-day quarantine upon arrival, if they show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result taken within the previous 72 hours.
Greece has begun easing Covid-19 restrictions, although a partial lockdown remains in place. A daily curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. is in effect. People are encouraged to stay
home and must send a text message to the authorities whenever they leave. Retail stores have reopened by appointment, but restaurants can only offer delivery or take-out. Gatherings remain prohibited.
The government will ban flights from the U.K., starting July 1. The U.K. has been classified as an extremely high-risk area due to the Delta variant. As such, anyone who has stayed in the U.K. for more than two hours will not be allowed to board a passenger flight to Hong Kong. The government has also delayed the launch of an air-travel bubble program with Singapore; a new start date has not been announced.
Hong Kong has started easing social-distancing measures. On April 29, catering businesses were allowed to reopen as part of a "vaccine-bubble program," but cannot exceed 50 percent capacity. Gatherings remain limited to no more than four people.
Hungary imposed its strictest coronavirus measures to date on Nov. 10. The new restrictions include a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Businesses must also close by 7 p.m., and restaurants will only be allowed to serve takeout food. Family gatherings cannot exceed more than 10 people. Other events have been banned. The measures have been extended until at least Jan. 11.
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.
As of July 19, fully vaccinated U.S. travelers are allowed to enter Ireland and do not need to quarantine or complete a Covid-19 test. Those who are not fully vaccinated must take a test within 72 hours prior to arrival, quarantine for 14 days once in the country and take a post-arrival Covid test. All travelers must complete a passenger locator form at least 48 hours prior to arrival. The latest travel updates can be found on the government's website.
Under the current restrictions, organized indoor events, such as conferences, are not allowed. However, outdoor events of up to 200 people are permitted at most venues. Up to 500 people are allowed for outdoor gatherings at venues with a capacity of more than 5,000 people. Event organizers must abide by safety protocols, including social distancing.
Italy has updated its travel guidance and now allows visitors from the United States, Canada and Japan to enter under the requirements of the E.U.'s new Digital Covid Certificate. As part of the digital passport, travelers must present proof of full vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours prior to entry or a medical certificate that shows they have recovered from the virus.
The Italian government has continued to ease Covid-19 mitigation measures and nearly all of the country is now in the white zone, the least restrictive level of Italy's color-coded map of restrictions. In white zones, the curfew has been lifted and bars and restaurants can reopen. Trade fairs and conferences were allowed to resume as of June 15, but must comply with safety protocols.
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 Yoshihide Suga has expanded Japan's state of emergency over several cities until at least June 20. The state of emergency covers Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima. Bars that only serve alcohol are required to close. Restaurants and bars that serve food must close by 8 p.m., and are not allowed to serve alcohol. Residents are advised to leave their homes only for essential reasons and must avoid gatherings.
The closure of the U.S.–Mexico land border has been extended until at least Aug. 21. Most of the country's tourist destinations have reopened to visitors, with some restrictions. The Mexican Ministry of Tourism has implemented the Clear Point Quality Seal certification system to indicate restaurants, bars, hotels and other tourism providers that are following the highest safety protocols.
The Netherlands moved to phase four of reopening on June 26. However, the government temporarily tightened some restrictions on July 10, following a rise in Covid-19 cases. The new measures are expected to stay in place until at least mid-August. Indoor and outdoor events are only allowed with assigned seating. Face masks are no longer required, but event organizers must abide put social-distancing rules in place. Venues can host up to two-thirds of their seated capacity if all attendees provide proof of full vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result. The Netherlands has released a list of safe countries, from which travelers are not required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result prior to entry or to quarantine after arrival.
New Zealand's borders remain closed to visitors from most countries. The country is currently at alert level 1. Most restrictions on businesses have been lifted, and indoor and outdoor gatherings of all sizes are permitted. However, event organizers are required to display a QR code poster at their gatherings for Covid-19 tracking purposes. If the event is spread across multiple sites, the government suggests having several QR codes.
New Zealand has suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia for at least eight weeks. The suspension will be reviewed in September. Updates on travel and Covid-19 can be found on the government's Unite Against Covid-19 website.
As cases have risen throughout Europe, Norway has introduced requirements that travelers arriving from Great 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.
A state of emergency has been extended until April 15. The country, however, started easing restrictions on March 15. The lockdown will be lifted gradually, as part of a four-step process. The measures will be reevaluated every 15 days.
Commercial establishments were allowed to reopen on March 15, and museums can welcome guests back on April 5. Cinemas, theaters, auditoriums and cultural centers can reopen on April 19, and restaurants and cafes will be able to offer service until 10
p.m. on weeknights and 1 p.m. on weekends. Groups must be limited to four people inside and six people outside. Outdoor events also are expected to resume on April 19, with a reduced capacity set by health authorities. On May 3, restaurants and cafés
can expand capacities to groups of six people indoors and 10 people outdoors. In addition, large outdoor and indoor events will be permitted with limited capacity.
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.
Scotland moved to the highest level of its five-tier system of coronavirus restrictions on Jan. 4. As part of the level-four lockdown, schools must remain closed and residents
are required to stay home with only a few exceptions. Nonessential shops have been ordered to close, while restaurants and bars are limited to takeout service. Indoor gatherings with nonhousehold members are prohibited. Outdoor gatherings cannot exceed
more than two people.
Singapore has tightened Covid-19 measures once again, in response to a rising number of cases. From July 22 to Aug. 18, the country will revert to its phase-two restrictions. MICE events will be capped at 100 people with pre-event testing, or 50 people without testing. Unmasking is not allowed for speakers or performers. Event organizers must also submit their plans to the Singapore Tourism Board for approval, and adhere to specific risk-mitigation measures.
The Singapore Tourism Board has launched the
SG Clean initiative to audit the sanitation practices of all types of facilities; those who put the measures in place will earn a certification from the STB.
Following a rise in infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa issued new restrictions, which have been extended until July 15. During this time, all indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited. A daily curfew from 9 p.m to 4 a.m. has been introduced and all nonessential businesses must close by 8 p.m. Restaurants can only offer pick-up and delivery services at this time.
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.
A national state of emergency ended on May 9. Covid-19 restrictions vary by region, although social distancing and mask mandates remain in place for all public spaces. In Madrid, a nighttime curfew has been lifted and hotels, restaurants and bars can operate at 50 percent capacity. Cultural venues, such as museums and theaters, can welcome visitors at 75 percent capacity. Gatherings of more than six people indoors or outdoors are not recommended.
On June 7, Spain opened its borders to vaccinated travelers from the U.S. and most of the world. In addition, non-vaccinated travelers from the EU's 27 member nations are allowed entry with proof of a negative Covid-19 test result. Nonessential travel from Brazil, India and South Africa remains banned due to high Covid-19 rates. Spain also opened its ports to cruise ships on June 7.
Sweden is imposing its toughest coronavirus restrictions to date. Beginning Nov. 24, gatherings of more than eight people will be prohibited. The measure is expected to remain in place until Dec. 6. Unlike other countries in the region, Sweden's government
avoided a significant lockdown, leaving shops, restaurants and bars open and asking that citizens voluntarily
keep their distance from one another. Previously, gatherings of up to 50 people were allowed.
As of late December, the country has suspended all incoming travel from Great Britain and Denmark until further notice.
Switzerland will open its borders to vaccinated travelers from North America tomorrow, June 26. Those from the U.S. and Canada who present proof that they are fully vaccinated will not need to take a PCR test prior to entry or to quarantine after arrival. U.S. travelers can also enter the country with a negative Covid-19 test result or proof of recovery.
Covid-19 restrictions also will be relaxed further on June 26. The requirements to work from home and wear a mask outdoors have been lifted. In addition, events that use Covid-19 certificate forms to verify attendee vaccination status or test results will have no capacity limits or restrictions. Meanwhile, seated gatherings without a Covid-19 certificate cannot exceed more than 1,000 people. Events with no seating requirement and no Covid certificate will be limited to 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors. The latest updates and information on what's open can be found on Switzerland Tourism's website.
United Arab Emirates
Dubai has announced new coronavirus measures that will remain in effect through the end of February. During this time, all bars and
pubs are closed. Restaurants and cafes are open, but must cease operations at 1 a.m. Hotels can operate at 70 percent capacity, and indoor seated venues are not to exceed 50 percent capacity.
England moved to its final phase of reopening on July 19. All social-distancing limits have been eliminated, face masks are no longer required, and all indoor and outdoor gathering restrictions have been lifted. According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Covid passports will not be used as an entry requirement for venues or events. Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result, however, will be required for international travel. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that masks will still be required on public transportation in the capital city, such as subways, buses and trams.
Changes to the U.K.'s traffic-light system also took effect on July 19, with travelers from amber-list countries no longer required to quarantine for 10 days after arrival and take another Covid-19 test on day eight if they are fully vaccinated and have not visited a red-list country within the past 10 days. Travelers from amber-list destinations are still required to complete a Covid-19 test prior to travel and on the second day of arrival. Among the destinations currently on the amber list are the U.S., France, Germany and Denmark.
Green-list visitors must also take a Covid-19 test prior to travel and on the second day of arrival, regardless of vaccination status. They are not required to quarantine, unless their test result is positive. Green-list destinations include Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Travelers from red-list countries are only able to enter the United Kingdom if they have residency rights, or are a British or Irish citizen. They must take a Covid-19 test prior to travel, quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days and complete two more Covid-19 tests upon arrival. Red-list countries include Afghanistan, India and South Africa. Details and updates on the U.K.'s traffic-light system for travel can be found on the government's website.