Which Countries Are Reopening for Meetings? Here Are the Latest Updates From Around the World
Nov 05, 2020
Belgium and England have announced national lockdowns intended to curb the spread of coronavirus. Similar restrictions were introduced in France and Germany last week.
Updated Nov. 2, 2020 by Northstar Meeting Groups
As many parts of the world continue to battle new Covid-19 outbreaks, leaders have paused the reopening process and, in some cases, put in place new restrictions. Mexico and Canada have extended the closure of their borders with the United States until at least Nov. 21 (see below).
Recent spikes have led many European countries to reintroduce measures to curb the spread of infection and reimpose travel constraints on their neighbors. In response to Belgium's rise in cases, the country's leaders have introduced new restrictions. From Nov. 2 to Dec. 13, nonessential shops and businesses will be closed. Employees are encouraged to work from home and public gatherings cannot exceed more than four people (see below). England also is expected to enter a four-week lockdown from Nov. 5 to Dec. 2. Bars and restaurants will only be allowed to serve take out. Gyms, theaters, salons and nonessential retail businesses must shut down for the time being (see below).
On Oct. 30, France entered a nationwide lockdown that will last until Dec. 1. During this time, gatherings are banned, and nonessential businesses, including bars and restaurants, will close. Residents are required to fill out permission forms whenever they leave home (see below). Meanwhile, a partial lockdown in Germany began on Nov. 2 and is expected to remain in place until Nov. 30. Gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people from a maximum of two households. Restaurants can only serve takeout, while bars, theaters and gyms will be forced to close (see below).
Italy implemented new restrictions on Oct. 26 that are expected to last until Nov. 24. Bars and restaurants must close by 6 p.m., and people are required to wear masks outdoors (see below). On Oct. 25, Spain declared a state of emergency and ordered a nationwide curfew. Regional leaders can modify the curfew and restrictions. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will ask Parliament to extend the state of emergency until May (see below).
Further north, Wales entered a 17-day lockdown on Oct. 23 (see below), and Ireland imposed its highest level of coronavirus restrictions on Oct. 21. The rules, which prohibit all indoor and outdoor organized gatherings, are expected to last six weeks (see below). The Netherlands government has ordered a partial lockdown beginning Oct. 15 that is expected to last at least four weeks and includes new restrictions on bars and restaurants, gathering limits, and face-mask requirements (see below). The government of the Czech Republic reimposed a state of emergency on Oct. 5 and also has lowered gathering restrictions (see below).
On Oct. 13, European Union countries approved new travel guidelines that unify testing and quarantine regulations to simplify travel between the member nations. As part of the new approach, the E.U. has created a map that displays the Covid-19 risk levels throughout Europe, based on a traffic-light system. The map will be updated each week by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Regions will be colored green, orange or red, depending on the total number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, as well as the testing rate and test-positivity rate for the preceding week. Regions will be colored gray if not enough information is available. The map will be used to determine travel restrictions, including quarantine or testing mandates. For example, those coming from green regions will not face any travel restrictions, while travelers from orange and red regions can expect some restrictions.
As some destinations have largely contained the spread of Covid-19, a few have announced plans for again allowing business events to take place. On Oct. 8, the Hong Kong Tourism Board announced it would launch standardized hygiene and anti-epidemic protocols for tourism-related industries, in partnership with the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (see below). Beginning Oct. 1, Singapore approved business gatherings of up to 250 participants (see below), while Dubai reopened for international meetings on the same date (see below). Conferences and exhibitions were also expected to return to the United Kingdom on Oct. 1. A number of tourist destinations have moved forward with 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. Melbourne, which has been under strict lockdown since July, will loosen the rules starting Oct. 27. Restaurants, cafés and bars will be allowed to reopen, and outdoor contact sports can resume. On Nov. 8, residents in Melbourne will no longer be restricted to traveling within 16 miles of their homes. Beginning Aug. 6, regional Victoria and Mitchell Shire 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.
As of Sept. 21, indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. Outdoor events without assigned seats are limited to 100 people, while outdoor events with assigned seats are limited to 3,000 people. The latest reopening updates can be found at Austria's travel portal. 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). 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 Vienna Tourist Board welcomed a pilot Covid-19 rapid test that can provide results within 15 minutes and could help restart the events industry. The test was performed at the Austria Center Vienna on Sept. 16-17. Nearly 3,000 students from the Vienna University of Economics and Business were tested as part of the pilot program.
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.
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.
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 Nov. 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.
On Oct. 5, the government reimposed a state of emergency, which is expected to last up to 30 days. Indoor events are currently limited to no more than 10 people, while outdoor events are restricted to up to 20 people. The country had reopened on July 1, 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 of origin (those coming from "orange" and "red" countries — currently Spain and Romania — must present proof of a negative Covid-19 test or must quarantine).
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.
On Oct. 30, France will enter a nationwide lockdown that will last until Dec. 1. Schools will remain open, but all nonessential businesses, including bars and restaurants, will be closed. Residents are expected to stay home unless they need to buy essential items, go to a doctor's appointment, care for a relative or exercise. Anyone leaving their home will need to fill out a permission form justifying why. Private and public gatherings will be banned during this time. As cases have increased throughout the country, officials have mandated mask wearing in Paris and a number of other cities. On June 15, borders reopened to tourists from Britain, the EU and countries from the Schengen area. France also joined the EU in welcoming travelers from 14 other countries beginning July 1, with a 14-day quarantine required. Gathering restrictions vary depending on the zone. For areas that have been tagged as an "alert zone," gatherings are limited to no more than 30 people. For high-alert zones, public gatherings are limited to 10 people or fewer.
Germany will enter a partial lockdown on Nov. 2 that will last until Nov. 30. Bars, theaters, gyms, nail salons and other leisure facilities will be closed. Restaurants will only be allowed to provide takeout. Public gatherings will be capped at 10 people from a maximum of two households. Previously, on Sept. 15, Germany's government declared that trade shows were "essential" and excluded from its ban on mass gatherings that has been in effect since May. At the end of August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel extended the ban on large events through the end of 2020. 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.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board is developing standardized hygiene and anti-epidemic protocols for tourism-related industries. The new guidelines, which are being developed in partnership with the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency, aim to boost visitors' confidence in traveling to the region. More than 1,800 businesses have expressed interest in the protocols. Beginning June 1, travelers were again allowed to transfer through Hong Kong International Airport. While the country has not yet reopened its borders to foreigners, it is discussing the creation of a "travel bubble" with Macao and the 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. On Oct. 21, Ireland will introduce the highest level of coronavirus restrictions. The restrictions are expected to last six weeks. During this time, people are asked to stay home, bars and restaurants will can only offer take-out service, and no organized gatherings are allowed.
After loosening many of its restrictions on businesses and gatherings following a nearly four-month lockdown, the Italian government has reimposed a few restrictions as cases have risen again. Beginning Oct. 26, gyms, pools and movie theaters will be shut down. The new constraints, which are expected to last until Nov. 24, also mandate that restaurants and bars close by 6 p.m. Mask-wearing is now required even in outdoor areas and nightclubs have been closed. The requirement to wear masks on public transportation and a ban on gatherings 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 destination-wide 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.
After a spike in cases, the Dutch government ordered a partial lockdown, which is expected to last at least four weeks. Beginning Oct. 15, bars and restaurants will be required to close by 10 p.m. New restrictions on gatherings cap attendance at indoor seated venues to no more than 30 people, and indoor and outdoor gatherings cannot have more than four people from different households. Face masks are required in indoor spaces and on public transport. 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 Oct. 25, the Spanish government declared a state of emergency and ordered a nationwide curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., with some exceptions for commuting to work, buying medicine, and caring for elderly and young family members. Regional leaders will have the ability to modify the curfew, close regional borders to travel and limit gatherings to no more than six people from different households. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said he will ask Parliament to extend the state of emergency until May. On Sept. 8, Spain became the first European country to surpass 500,000 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 a mask-wearing 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.
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.
Shortly after England reached 1 million coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the country would enter a four-week lockdown, from Nov. 5 to Dec. 2. Parliament is expected to vote on the measure on Nov. 4. New restrictions would include closing entertainment venues, leisure facilities and all nonessential retail. Bars and restaurants would only be allowed to serve take out. Residents would be encouraged to stay home, with few exceptions for work, childcare, medical concerns, essential shopping and exercise.
Those returning to the U.K. from several countries, including Australia, Sweden and Germany, must quarantine for 14 days upon reentering. On Oct. 23, Wales entered a 17-day lockdown. Bars, restaurants and nonessential shops have been ordered to close. All indoor and outdoor gatherings involving people from different households have been banned. Business events of up to 30 people are allowed in England. 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.
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