Updated June 2, 2020, 12:00 p.m. EDT.
While many countries continue to try to slow the spread COVID-19 -- keeping residents at home, businesses and schools closed, and large gatherings banned -- leaders in some destinations are loosening more restrictions. The beginning of June saw several major destinations, including Australia, France and Singapore, move forward on their next phases of reopening, while Berlin's senate approved events of up to 150 people, and New Zealand's leaders expect all restrictions on gatherings to be lifted as soon as June 8. Below we are tracking the latest updates on both the imposition and easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Reopening status in countries that have banned or restricted events
With a relatively small number of COVID-19 cases, this was the first Caribbean destination to announce a specific date for reopening its border, as the Aruba government announced that it aims to beging welcoming tourists between June 15 and July 1, with comprehensive testing of any visitors.
On June 1, the country moved forward on Prime Minister Scott Morrison's three-step plan for gradual reopening, as pubs welcomed people for the first time in two months and larger gatherings were allowed. Step 1 allows for business gatherings of up to 10 people, and the opening of restaurants and cafés. Large venues in South Australia are now allowed to welcome up to 80 people in groups of no more than 20, while large venues in Western Australia can now permit 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 by July.
The government of Austria banned gatherings of more than five people, but has begun easing restrictions on public parks and small shops, with strict distancing rules in place. Larger shops and hairdressers began to reopen May 1, and restaurants and cafés started to welcome diners beginning May 15, while some museums and churches also reopened.
The Bahamas has begun Phase 2 of its five-stage plan, and is aiming to reopen its borders for commercial travel on July 1. "Our resorts, our airports and our seaports are finalizing the health and safety protocols that will be necessary for us to provide for a reopening," Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on May 18.
This country began loosening restrictions, with some shops opening on May 4, following strict social-distancing rules, followed by schools reopening May 18 (with no more than 10 students allowed in a classroom). Cafés and restaurants can start welcoming patrons on June 8, contingent on whether the outbreak stays contained.
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On April 28, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a joint statement with premiers across Canada that reopening would be guided by a stabilization in number of hospitalizations and new cases, and sufficient public-health capacity, but that provincial governments would make decisions suited to their jurisdictions. British Columbia began reopening in mid-May, including "small social gatherings," with hotels and resorts set to be up and running in June. Alberta began stage 1 of its relaunch strategy on May 14, allowing for the reopening of retail businesses and gatherings of up to 15 people. Ontario entered stage 1 of its recovery plan on May 19, including the reopening of retail locations and veterinary services. Quebec has postponed the reopening of retail businesses until May 25.
Following a five-step reopening plan, on May 11, cultural and sport events of up to 100 people were permitted to start taking place again, including theater performances and religious services, but large events remained prohibited.
After imposing a nationwide lockdown, Denmark has begun easing its restrictions, reopening daycare centers and schools, though border controls and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people will continue until at least mid-May and larger gatherings are expected to be banned until at least August.
On June 2, France entered Phase 2 of its multistep reopening plan, allowing for restaurants and cafés to reopen in those areas least impacted by the pandemic. In Paris, only parks and restaurant terraces have been allowed to reopen. Throughout the country, public gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people. Border restrictions remain in place through June 15, and theaters, swimming pools and gyms are expected to welcome people on June 22. Public events of more than 5,000 people are banned until at least September.
Germany has begun loosening restrictions, reopening all shops across the country, and allowing its 16 federal states to individually determine the timing. Schools, businesses, restaurants, shops and museums have either gotten back to business or will very soon (following strict social-distancing rules). The Senate of Berlin has approved private, cultural and commercial indoor gatherings of up to 150 people (and up to 200 people outdoors), as of June 2. This will increase to 300 participants for indoor events beginning June 30 (and up to 1,000 for outdoor events), as long as strict hygiene and safety protocols are followed.
Greece, which has had one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 infections among European countries, began reopening nonessential businesses on May 4 with more businesses reopening May 11 and 18. The Acropolis has reopened, as have secondary schools. Restaurants and hotels are expected to reopen starting June 1. Greece started allowing people on 500 of its beaches on May 16 and announced plans to reopen the country to tourists by July 1.
Having closed its borders to all tourists on March 20, Iceland's prime minister announced the country would be extending the closure until June 15. Currently, both tourists and locals entering the country must undergo a 14-day quarantine, but after June 15, travelers will be given the option to get tested upon arrival instead of going through the quarantine.
The Republic of Ireland's nationwide shutdown, in place since March 12, began its first of five stages for recovery on May 18, with the opening of some retail and service outlets. This will be followed by cafés and restaurants reopening (and the permitting of social gatherings) on June 29, followed by pubs as well as festivals and cultural gatherings on Aug. 10. Schools and colleges are expected to reopen in September or October.
After the Italian government quarantined the entire country, 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 and churches; social distancing rules remain in place. Residents are now also allowed to move within their own regions, though gatherings in public places remain prohibited. The country's government recently announced plans to reopen Italy's borders, without restrictions, on June 3.
Jamaica's government has announced a "five-point recovery plan" that will stagger the reopening of its attractions, but has not set a specific date for that to begin. Visitors currently must quarantine for 14 days and no commercial flights currently are scheduled into the island.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the country's state of emergency for most of Japan, though Tokyo and Osaka remain locked down. In 39 of the country's 47 prefectures, nonessential businesses have begun to reopen.
Following a seven-week lockdown, Mexico's government began lifting quarantine restrictions on hundreds of counties on May 18, with plans to reopen the rest of the country by June 1, depending on the number of cases and hospitalizations observed. Tourism officials in Cancun and Riviera Maya have announced that the region will be open to visitors at the beginning of June, while Los Cabos Tourism Board is following a five-phase reopening plan that will not welcome visitors until July at the earliest. Mexico City's mayor announced that the city's restaurants, department stores and theaters would reopen in mid-June, at one-third capacity.
With a relatively low number of cases compared with other European destinations, the Netherlands on June 1 reopened restaurants, bars, theaters and museums, limiting indoor spaces to 30 people or fewer. Public transport is also running, though riders are expected to wear face masks.
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 medical and dental clinics, hair salons and small shops on May 4. Larger shops, museums, daycare centers and restaurants (at half capacity) were allowed to get back to business on May 18. If all goes smoothly, June 1 will see the reopening of shopping malls, preschools, cinemas and houses of worship.
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 government of Saint Lucia announced that the country, which has been closed to international visitors since March 23, would begin the phased reopening of its tourism sector on June 4, with limited activities available when booked through registered hotels and travel providers. Hotels will be 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, to use face masks and more.
On June 2, Singapore entered Phase 1 of its three-part reopening after instituting a "circuit breaker" when a resurgence of cases followed its first reopening efforts. About a third of the workforce is now allowed to return to their offices and some schools are beginning to accept students. Expected to last at least four weeks, this period will keep restrictions on retail stores and in-restaurant dining. 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 has begun to loosen some of its restrictions, following a four-phased plan, each lasting two weeks. Since May 11, most of the country has entered Phase 1 of a four-phase plan (excluding Madrid and Barcelona, which are still in Phase 0), with small businesses, religious centers and hoteliers are now allowed to open their properties, but not the common areas and the facilities must follow strict cleanliness rules and groups of up to 10 people are allowed to meet together, as long as they follow social-distancing rules. On June 1, the country reopened its beaches. Bars and restaurants are allowed to open a limited amount of outdoor seating. "By the end of June, we as a country will have entered into the new normality if the epidemic remains under control," Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.
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.
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. Swiss officials announced that public and private events of up to 300 people as well as "spontaneous gatherings" of up to 30 people would be allowed again beginning June 6. Officials also expect that travel restrictions within Europe's 26-nation Schengen zone will also be largely lifted July 6.
On May 10, Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a 50-page document, Our Plan to Rebuild, outlining a three-step plan for reopening the economy. The country currently is in Step 2, in which some schools and businesses (including shops, but not pubs, cafés or restaurants) have reopened, while cultural and sporting events will be allowed to take place, but behind closed doors and without audiences. Step 3, which will begin if five tests related to death and hospitalization rates and public-health capacity are met, will begin on July 4, when restaurants, hairdressers, houses of worship and theaters will be allowed to reopen.