How Countries are Lifting the Lockdown
Last updated on May 29th, 2020
Even if you are not following the news 24/7, you might have noticed some changes in local policies, recently announced across various countries. Starting from mid-April, some countries, urged to reboot the economy, are taking their first cautious steps to relax the restrictions imposed by coronavirus. It’s a gradual process, with policies being tailored individually in each country, and they should be revised once the country authorities see if the number of infected people increases again. In this case, all exemptions will be cancelled, and harsh measures will be returned.
Although it’s too early to talk about a return to normal life, it’s a small ray of light in this intimidating battle.
What are the exemptions introduced in some countries?
Austria was one of the first countries in Europe to ease its lockdown. Since the middle of April, the restrictions are lifted for the citizens but they have to follow social distancing measures and keep 1 meter from others in public. Masks are required only in closed spaces and gatherings up to 10 people are allowed starting in May. Restaurants and cafes will open on May 15, but with new precautions.
Tourism Minister, Elizabeth Kostinger, said hotels and touristic places will open on May 29. Facility staff must wear masks. Such measures will be valid until the end of June. Currently, all Austrian Airlines flights are cancelled until May 31, 2020.
On May 13, Austria announced that its border with Germany will open on June 15. As well as the borders for Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. This is one of the first big steps at easing border restriction in Europe.
Airports from Vienna, Innsbruck and Salzburg are operational with service restrictions until 31 May. Health certificate are required on entry, proving that the traveller is COVID-19 free; without a certificate, 14 days self-isolation is mandatory. As another option, testing is available at Vienna airport for €190.
First of the Caribbean islands have decided to open their borders to travelers.
St Lucia and Antigua have announced that they’ll begin easing the restrictions by welcoming flights only from the US. This will happen on June 4. Phase Two will begin in early June and is expected to include countries from Europe as well. More details will be revealed in the coming weeks.
New procedures will surround your trip to the Caribbean. Visitors are required to provide a negative Covid-19 test up to 48 hours after boarding their flight. The use of face masks and social distancing are expected by everyone. Travelers could be subjected to screenings and temperature checks, and health and safety protocols will be reinforced.
For a further peace of mind, hotels will also have a Covid-19 certificate if they meet specific criteria for sanitation, social distancing and other protocols.
Wuhan emerged from a complete blockage on April 8: they removed the barrage cordons installed in January at all exits; planes were allowed to make domestic flights, and cars were allowed to return to the motorways connecting Wuhan to other cities.
In other cities in China, restrictive measures are gradually being lifted. In Beijing, on April 30, the highest level of emergency response was reduced from “I” to “II”.
The government said on May 8, that China will start reopening cinemas, museums and other recreational venues, though some measures like mandatory masks and reservations will stay in place. These might be altered again as on May 11, Wuhan, where the epidemic began, reported its first new infections since the Chinese city ended its lockdown last month.
Shanghai has already reopened some night entertainment venues such as nightclubs. Shanghai Disneyland park was reopened on May 11, though to a reduced number of visitors who are required to wear masks and pass through body temperature checks showing on their smartphones that their health status is positive.
Chinese airlines are planning to resume international flights in May providing one weekly service per country in the beginning.
As of April 27, EU citizens arriving for business purposes and university students from EU countries may now come to the Czech Republic. Czech citizens are able to travel abroad, however on their return they must submit to 14 days of quarantine or provide a test with a negative Covid-19 result. Also, Czech citizens were allowed to gather in groups of up to 10 people.
Universities, stores up to 2500 square meters, fitness centers and libraries have been open since April 27. Starting from May 11, cross-border public transportation is allowed again with the exception of air traffic, which still remains limited. Non-EU citizens, specifically seasonal workers, key personnel (e.g. scientists) and workers in the health sector and social services are allowed to enter the Czech Republic again. They are obliged to submit a PCR testing result certificate during the border control.
Shopping centers and hairdressing salons started operating from May 11,restaurants and hotels are scheduled to reopen from May 25.
In the last few days, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria have started talking about opening their borders to one another as early as 8 June. The country has since opened borders with Austria and Germany providing you can show a negative COVID-19 test on arrival. More airports in Czech Republic have opened with flights from inside the Schengen area allowed.
France has begun easing the restrictions from May 11. Shops, schools and some markets are going to open slowly with face masks being required on public transportation. From June 2 restrictions will be lifted further, citizens are now allowed to go to a restaurant, bar and cafe with a 1 metre distance between tables to keep to social distancing rules.
Due to Paris being heavily impacted by the virus, restaurants are only allowed to be open for outdoor sitting in the city. Citizens can also travel more than 100 kilometres from their residences. More rules were relaxed by French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe.
Travelling from one part of France to another is allowed again and restrictions for Schengen and EU tourists expires on May 15. It is still unclear whether it will be extended or not. The borders continue to be closed for people arriving from non-Schengen countries. It is not yet known how long this ban will continue for.
Germany due to positive results from their lockdown has partially lifted their lockdown regulations since April 20, the country allowed restaurants, hotels and shops to reopen as well as students returning to school. With social distancing measures still in place throughout the country. Face masks are mandatory on all public transports as well as during shopping.
The German tourism commissioner has revealed his hopes that the country will open up travel to and from neighbouring countries that have seen a similar drop in infection rates, countries that are available by car are preferred. Currently, arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days. Arrivals from the EU, the Schengen area and the UK will be exempt, unless the rate of infection is higher in the area where they come from. Large events, such as festivals, concerts and sport games, may return after August.
Greece is still implementing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation on everyone who enters the country, and travelling outside the district of stay or residence (e.g. Attica) is still not allowed.
As of May 11, most shops (except shopping centres) are open with a limited number of customers. Shopping malls are expected to open from May 18. Bars, cafes and restaurants are set to open on May 25, a week earlier than the initial schedule. Over the weekend, Greece opened 500 beaches but with several restrictions, testing its plans for the summer period.
It’s mandatory to wear facemasks on public transport, taxis, in all medical facilities and in lifts.
Island-hopping has been allowed with the reintroduction of regular ferry services, with rules on social distancing and passenger limits, since May 25 with the possibility of having a summer vacation in Greece getting higher by the day. The Prime Minister shared in an interview that he expects the tourism industry to be up and running by July 1.
The country is expected to welcome overseas tourists again from June 15 and direct flights to the islands are allowed from July 1, this date marks the end of the self-isolate restriction and incorporates a new Covid-19 testing requirement.
In the case of Iceland, the country has been easing its lockdown restrictions since the start of May, now allowing public gatherings of up to 200 people and night clubs and gyms can reopen. Restaurants, bars and cafes have been asked to rearrange their tables so there is a two meter gap between seats. Face masks are not required; the usual social distancing and personal hygiene rules apply.
Currently, everyone that enters the country needs to self-isolate for 14 days but the Icelandic government announced that it will open borders to overseas arrivals on June 15. In order to enter the country, visitors will have to install Iceland’s official tracing and tracking app and self-isolate for 14 days after arrival unless opt in to be tested for the virus (tests will come at a fee of £167) or can prove they are free from infection. Some professionals, including scientists, filmmakers and athletes, will be allowed to enter the country from May 15.
From the beginning of May, Italy has removed some of the restrictions on the movement of citizens. Members of the same family are able to meet if they live in the same region though wearing masks is mandatory. Moving from one region to another is possible but only for business reasons, for trips to medical facilities or for returning home.
From May 18, museums and other cultural sites, additional shops and libraries will be reopened. Further openings are planned for June 1 for hairdressers, beauty salons, bars, and restaurants with eat-in service, if infection rates continue to slow.
Alitalia Airline operates only regional routes until at least June.
Over the weekend, Italy announced that it will open its borders to foreign travel on June 3. People can also start moving freely across the country's regions on the same day. Tourists would not be expected to go into a 14 day quarantine, if they’re not showing symptoms.
On March 24 the country went into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days with a stay at home order enforced. This lockdown was extended multiple times with each extension slowly walking back the previous restrictions. International flights into India are currently banned except those of a humanitarian or essential travel nature. Domestic flights are slowly resuming with light at the end of the tunnel.
Israel is slowly returning to action; people are allowed to leave home to see their loved ones, work out and take advantage of spring weather. Israelis are asked to wear masks in public spaces, maintain a two-meter distance from one another and wash their hands regularly.
Israel’s Ministry of Tourism is beginning to reopen its domestic tourism. From May 3, hotels and other accommodation establishments with ground-floor rooms are permitted to operate as the first step in the tourism industry’s return to operation.
Since May 7, many establishments have reopened - namely, malls, gyms, open-air markets, day-care. Museums are planned to open again on May 17, and gatherings up to 100 people will be possible from May 31.
Borders are open for tourists from Schengen area and essential travel. Airlines are requiring travellers to present a health declaration that includes a COVID-19 test. While some shops and hotels remain open, social distancing is mandatory everywhere in public. From June 1, outdoor restaurants, bars theatres, music venues, museums and cinemas are due to open and this date marks the start of the new normality.
Events, concerts and festivals with more than 100 people are expected to be allowed after 1 September. Face masks are mandatory on all public transports from June 1.
Poland has been one of the first countries in the world to start lifting lockdown measurements as of 4 May to the point where travelling between cities, parks and beaches among others are now permitted. Flights between international countries started operating on 23 May, compelling travellers to do a two week self-isolation.
Strict social distancing measures will be adhered to. Hotels, outdoor sports venues, and shopping were allowed to reopen from 4 May excluding some high risk common areas. Since 18 May museums, libraries, art galleries and remaining shops are open.Some public transport is operating too, making face masks a mandatory matter in public.
From May 4, Portugal has started easing its lockdown in stages, each one lasting two weeks. Public services are open only with an appointment and face masks are mandatory in all enclosed public spaces, such as shops, schools, public transport, beauty salons among others.
Bars, cafes and restaurants are going to open their doors on May 18, but they will be limited to using only 50% of their capacity. Museums and galleries are also expected to be open from May 18, while cinemas, theaters and auditoriums are set to open on June 1.
Hotels will welcome visitors from June 1 onward. A state-run tourism agency Turismo de Portugal has introduced a hygiene label to be awarded to operators who are meeting government-controlled standards.
Portugal’s beaches will reopen on June 6: Any sporting activities involving more than one person (including pedalo boats and slides) are banned, while sun loungers or parasols must be kept three metres apart from each other with a maximum of five people to each one.
Arrivals by air would be subject to health checks but not a mandatory self-isolation. Travellers must present negative test results from within 72 hours prior to departure or be tested on arrival, paid for by the local government once international flights start operating again.
Slovenia declared an end to Covid-19 and started opening up the country as of May 15. Shops and most services will resume their work on May 18 with certain restrictions in place. Gatherings of more than five people are still not allowed and a 14-day quarantine for some foreigners is still in place but the government is hoping to allow gatherings of up to 50 people soon.
Slovenia has also opened its borders to European Union citizens and has removed the required seen-day quarantine for arrivals. The reopening of all accommodation capacities with up to 30 rooms, campsites and camper stops has also started from May 18.
Spain has entered its four week plan on easing restrictions. From May 11, small businesses and hotels opened their doors but social distancing is in place. Cafes, bars and restaurants are also now operating with 30% capacity. Theaters and cinemas are expected to welcome visitors from late-May onward. Beaches are expected to be operational in late June.
As for travel, several airports are now functioning for international flights. The initial openings were El Prat in Barcelona, Gran Canaria in the Canaries, Barajas in Madrid, Málaga-Costa del Sol and Palma de Mallorca. As of May 18, Tenerife, Alicante, Seville, Menorca and Ibiza have been added to the list. The airports have been chosen because of their capacity to deal with safety regulations.
Although this is good news, a 14-day self-isolation is still expected from anyone coming into the country. This restriction will be lifted on July 1 for all people going into Spain.
Thailand had closed their borders in late March, a state of emergency and curfews were imposed and this was recently extended to until the end of June. Large gatherings are banned. Essential businesses are open but there is a ban on entertainment areas and similar businesses.
All commercial flights coming into Thailand are currently banned to curb the spread of coronavirus. Social distancing measures are still in place. Bangkok Airways has resumed some domestic flights with more domestic routes to be added in June.
Shopping malls, barbershops and hair salons have been allowed to reopen across Turkey from the beginning of May, with enhanced safety and hygiene measures in place. Turkey's senior citizens and youth who were confined to their homes are allowed for short spells for the first time in weeks.
From May 23, intercity and international communications will be resumed, domestic tourism will be restored, hotels that have a "health certificate" and are located far from the city center will be opened.
Turkish Airlines plans to gradually resume flights from June and will take four months to return to near full operation.
International flights are restricted, domestic flights are still suspended and inter-city travel is allowed under restrictions. From 27 May hotels and restaurants are permitted to open.
Disclaimer: changes in local policies are continuously unwrapping, and we will keep updating the list with more destinations and details. In the meantime, we recommend you to check the official websites of the local authorities for the most up-to-date travel information. As much as we would love to encourage you to plan your next trips, in the current situation, we urge you to be conscious about the consequences and consider risks involved.
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