When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery
The U.S. Travel Association says travel is vital to the U.S. economy and jobs recovery. The travel industry in America, the association says, is critical to boosting the U.S. economy even as it predicts, “travel industry losses will result in a GDP impact of $1.2 trillion in 2020.”
Coronavirus has us all frozen in place and dreaming of when we can start booking again. We’ve been doing a lot of stories at The Points Guy about our dream trips and when we can realistically book those trips.
This guide summarizes each country’s current status for international travel. You can check on countries that require a clean bill of health here.
The United States has become the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak. Some states are slowly reopening but most are still not welcoming tourists. In fact, Maine and Hawaii both have strict 14-day quarantine requirements in place for all out-of-state visitors.
The CDC still has a strong warning against any nonessential travel within the United States. The CDC website advises, “It is possible that some state and local governments may put in place travel restrictions, stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantines upon arrival, or even state border closures while you are traveling.”
The U.S. State Department also advises against any international travel, suggesting United States citizens either remain in place or return home. It’s at “Level 4,” the department’s highest warning. But it is a recommendation, not a requirement.
Additionally, the U.S. has strict restrictions on arriving visitors including a ban on tourist visitors from all of Canada, Mexico, Europe and much of Asia.
Canada remains in lockdown and the border between the United States and Canada is closed. Canada has also banned province-to-province travel, putting the summer tourism season in places like Ontario in jeopardy.
President Trump has said Canada would be one of the first countries to open to American visitors: “It will be one of the early borders to be released.” But the border will remain shut until at least mid-May, and Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau has said it could be “many weeks” before that changes.
Like many other nations, Canada requires all visitors to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. It’s unclear when that might be lifted.
Some Mexican states, including Quintana Roo — home to the tourist mecca of Cancun — plan on reopening on June 1. The country’s president said tourism is among several critical industries that could begin reopening by May 17.
A rebound in tourism will depend on the reopening of the region’s air hubs in Cancun, Cozmuel and Chetumal, and tourists are advised that enhanced screening and cleaning procedures are in effect.
The Washington Post reports that hotel occupancy rates in Cancun fell to as low as 2.8% at the height of the crisis. The country is planning a major campaign to get tourists to come back with a tag line of “Mexico needs you.”
Guatemala has had less than 1,000 cases of coronavirus but the country remains closed to tourists. An outright ban on travel to Guatemala by foreigners expired at the end of March, but a state of emergency remains in effect through the beginning of May at least and tourists are likely to be refused entry.
Fifteen percent of the cases in the country have been found in people deported from the United States, and Guatemala only agreed to accept future flights of deportees if the U.S. helps test every one of them.
Belize was one of the last countries in Central America to report a positive coronavirus case, according to the Miami Herald. At the time of writing, there have been 18 cases reported.
Belize’s borders will remain closed to all visitors until at least June 30, but this could extend longer. Some restrictions for residents will be loosened sooner. For instance, all transport for essential workers and essential purposes has resumed. However, curfews on public activity remain in effect. Additionally, some businesses have begun to reopen, like restaurants (delivery and take-out only), banks and pharmacies. But they will only be permitted to operate during certain hours and under strict new health guidelines.
El Salvador has fewer than 400 reported cases. The country took early steps to curb the pandemic and in fact, El Salvador was one of the first Central American countries to go into lockdown before any cases of coronavirus were reported. Though travel here is not specifically forbidden for U.S. citizens, no international flights are currently permitted in or out of the country, and visitors would be subject to the same strict isolation and movement guidelines as locals.
As a further precaution, the country also required Salvadorans arriving from other countries to quarantine for 30 days.
In addition to social-distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders, President Nayib Bukele recently announced that shopping trips would be limited to twice weekly until May 21. Additionally, residents will no longer be able to cross municipal boundaries under any circumstance.
Honduras has been among the countries most impacted by Covid-19 in Central America with nearly 1,500 cases and 99 deaths caused by the coronavirus.
The government announced on March 15 that all borders would be closed until further notice. According to the the U.S. Embassy in Honduras, a curfew was mandated until May 3, but there has been no update on whether or not that has been extended.
Nicaragua never really shut down. There are still soccer matches, food festivals and beauty pageants taking place. There were never any stay-at-home or social-distancing orders here — moves that have drawn criticism from groups like Human Rights Watch. There have also been questions about how many cases Nicaragua actually has. According to NPR, President Daniel Ortega says there have only been three active cases and one death.
Nicaragua’s borders remain open and local sources have reported that the government is discouraging Nicaraguans, — including health workers, airport staff, and policemen — from wearing masks.
Costa Rica began easing some coronavirus measures on May 1, allowing theaters, cinemas, hair salons, gyms and athletic centers to reopen under reduced hours and strict sanitary guidelines. This move came after the country’s active infections declined for 11 consecutive days.
A ban on foreign tourists is currently set to expire on May 15, but it’s likely to be extended as a precaution.
“We have had relative and fragile success, but we cannot let our guard down,” said President Carlos Alvarado.
Health experts attribute Costa Rica’s success to the country’s move on March 9 to suspend mass gatherings and urge employees to work from home. Costa Rica also has a strong universal health-care system and authorities have done extensive contact tracing to identify those infected.
Because Panama is a major maritime and air hub, it sits in a vulnerable position for Covid-19 outbreaks. The first case was recorded on March 9 and on March 22 all international and domestic travel was banned and is still prohibited.
During a May 6 press briefing, the Ministry of Health announced that it’s working with other ministries on plans for a gradual lifting of restrictions. This includes limiting liquor sales, requiring masks and gloves in public, and keeping social distance. Additionally, hardware stores will be allowed to reopen for online orders and shipping, but customers will not be permitted inside.
President Ivan Duque closed Colombian borders to foreign travelers in mid-March and borders will not reopen until May 30. Colombians returning home have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The nation is under countrywide quarantine until at least May 25, and travel between regions is also highly restricted.
This South American country has been one of the world’s most at-risk nations amid the coronavirus pandemic, and has fewer than 200 intensive care beds available, according to President Duque in neighboring Colombia. The U.S. has limited ability to support its citizens who are in Venezuela, and all international travel has been halted in and out of the country through May 12.
Ecuador is under a state of emergency until at least June 15. The country has been among the hardest-hit in South America, with more than 1,700 deaths, many centered in Guayaquil. U.S. citizens in Ecuador have been encouraged to leave amidst this crisis, and travel to the country is being discouraged.
Peru was the first in the region to implement quarantine measures, but despite its early precautions, the country now has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in South America with more than 50,000. Its borders are currently closed, but this is set to expire on May 10 and could well be extended.
On May 3, the Peruvian government announced its gradual reopening plans, which will happen in four stages. According to the U.S. Embassy in Peru, the first stage has just begun, allowing restaurants to reopen for pickup and delivery. Additionally, hotels will be allowed to open with decreased capacity and tourist transportation services will be allowed.
Bolivia is currently off-limits to tourists. The government announced a total quarantine of the country through May 10. All borders are closed and international and domestic flights are suspended aside from humanitarian and repatriation flights at least through May 31.
There have been over 1,000 cases and at least 55 deaths.
Paraguay has been under strict quarantine, and more than half of its 550 cases are thought to have come from neighboring Brazil which shares a loosely patrolled 400-kilometer border.
The country is easing its lockdown beginning in May, but tourism remains forbidden.
The country’s health minister Julio Mazzoleni said, “The borders will remain closed, classes will be done remotely and nonessential offices will continue to favor remote work. Mass public events will remain suspended.”
Brazil has the most coronavirus cases in South America with over 128,000. A travel ban on foreigners expired at the end of April, and there are some restrictions on arrivals, but no outright bans.
The government has not officially imposed any quarantine restrictions and President Jair Bolsonaro denies the need for them, insisting that only the elderly and other high-risk populations should stay home.
It wasn’t until May 5 that São Luís, the capital of Maranhão state, become the first major city in the country to implement a partial lockdown. Gov. Flávio Dino said that this will last for at least 10 days, but it could be extended.
Under this partial lockdown, residents of the Maranhão state are required to stay inside unless going out for essential tasks like buying groceries. Residents are also not allowed to go outside for exercise. All schools, public transit and parks have been closed, according to AP.
The U.S. is reportedly considering travel restrictions on people arriving from Brazil, but so far nothing has been decided.
Foreigners are barred from visiting Uruguay until further notice, and the country’s borders with Brazil and Argentina are also closed. There are no regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights, but some flights to Brazil are being allowed to fly foreigners out of Uruguay.
The Chilean government closed its borders to foreigners on March 18 and residents re-entering the country have to quarantine for two weeks. The country is also closed to cruise ships. It has more than 28,000 cases and much of the country is under mandatory quarantine.
LATAM has resumed flights between Santiago and the U.S., but mostly for humanitarian and repatriation flights.
Argentina has one of the world’s strictest travel bans, restricting all international commercial flights until Sept. 1, 2020. U.S. expatriates in Argentina should be prepared to stay abroad for an indefinite amount of time, according to the local U.S. embassy.
Every single nation in the Caribbean has closed its airports for the time being, with various additional restrictions detailed below.
Turks and Caicos
All international flights have been suspended until June 1, and cruise ships have been banned through June 30. Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is closed to international passenger travel, along with all other airports in the country, although there are exceptions for emergencies, medical evacuations and cargo flights. Further, an evening curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. is in effect until May 25, although this guideline was relaxed somewhat on May 4. Going to the beach, grocery stores, hardware store, pharmacies and other open-air businesses is currently permitted, although restaurants are only open for takeout. Clinics and pharmacies are the only businesses permitted to remain open on Sundays through May 25. Resorts and hotels have different opening dates; the government suggests reaching out to your specific property for information.
The Bahamas are under emergency orders through May 30. No international visitors are allowed to enter or disembark on Bahamian soil for any reason, including transit. The nation’s airports are closed to all incoming passenger flights, although airlines are permitted to fly empty aircraft into the Bahamas to retrieve international visitors.
There are no commercial flights scheduled into Sint Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport as of April, and there is no scheduled restart date as of now. Repatriation flights are allowed to land empty in order to retrieve international tourists returning home.
All international flights have been halted until further notice, and tourism businesses such as hotels are also limited to serving guests who have been stranded. All spas, pools and other amenities are closed.
All international flights have been halted until further notice. U.S. citizens who wish to leave Haiti must coordinate directly with the U.S. embassy there.
All commercial air and sea access to the nation of Dominica is suspended until further notice. Strict curfews are still being observed as well, as of May 7.
Cuba suspended international travel for tourists until further notice, beginning April 2.
Antigua and Barbuda
International flights have been suspended since late March.
A mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government facility has been instituted for all visitors entering the country between May 4 and May 17. Passenger flights are not allowed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. Airline crews may spend one night in Barbados, but they must be quarantined at the hotel until departure. Alternatively, crew may remain onboard the aircraft.
The country’s borders are closed by land, sea and air until May 17, and all incoming travelers must be quarantined for two weeks.
All airports and seaports have been closed for inbound international passengers through May 31.
India announced back in March that it was no longer allowing foreigners into the country. A suspension of international flights has been lifted, but only for humanitarian or essential travel.
The U.S. embassy said it has ended repatriation flights from India as of May 5 after bringing home more than 5,000 Americans.
India is beginning to ease its internal lockdown, but there’s no word on when outsiders might again be welcome.
All foreigners are required to get a visa before arrival. Although a formal ban is not in place, you must have a legitimate need to visit. From the U.S. embassy, “If a visa is issued, the foreign traveler must provide a medical certificate no more than 72 hours prior to the date of travel certifying s/he has not tested positive for COVID-19.”
The country only has 122 confirmed cases.
China is where the outbreak started late last year, but the Chinese government says it has passed the peak of the outbreak.
China suspended entry for nearly all foreigners and slashed the volume of international passenger flights to and from the country in March and strict anti-travel measures remain in place.
People who are proven healthy can generally move around within their own cities now, but they are being closely tracked via their cellphones and temperature checks in public are common.
China is allowing South Koreans to travel to some Chinese cities on business, but strict measures are in place to make sure outbreaks don’t spread. The Wall Street Journal reports China has reportedly discussed reopening travel with some 14 countries. The plans might involve creating so-called “green lanes” that would fast-track some business travelers.
Tourists from outside the country are still not welcome and there is no timeline on when that might change.
As of March 25, all non-Hong Kong residents arriving by plane will be denied entry, including into the airport facilities, until further notice. All non-Hong Kong residents coming from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan will be subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine after entering Hong Kong, but entry will be denied if the non-Hong Kong resident has traveled to any overseas countries or regions in the 14 days prior to arrival in Hong Kong.
There are talks underway to allow some travel without quarantine between Hong Kong, Macau and parts of China, but nothing is firm yet.
Coronavirus is under control in the former Portuguese colony, but travel is limited from anywhere except mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. There are discussions of creating a so-called ‘travel bubble’ between Macau and Hong Kong that would enable easy transit, but it’s not official policy at this time.
Japan is under a state of emergency through May 6 and is actually stepping up border controls and banning visitors from 70 nations including the United States — or anyone who has visited those nations in the past 14 days.
Japan had avoided stay-at-home orders and had seemed to avoid an outbreak like those of its Asian neighbors, but that has changed and it has now had to dramatically expand quarantine efforts.
Japan was supposed to host the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in July, but that date has now been pushed back to summer of 2021, and may even be further delayed.
Just seven weeks ago, the United States and South Korea had the same number of cases, but as of early May, South Korea had fewer than 300 deaths compared to more than 70,000 in the U.S.
South Korea remains closed to those traveling for “nonessential” reasons, and it doesn’t look like Americans will be welcomed as tourists anytime soon.
South Korea and China have agreed to allow some business travel between the two countries.
Singapore was an early leader in the fight against coronavirus — implementing screening of foreign visitors and some of the first quarantines. Contact tracing kept numbers and deaths low. It was also one of the first countries to ease its lockdown after that widespread testing and tracing led to a decline in cases. But a resurgence in cases has now forced it to reimpose severe restrictions.
Singapore’s borders are now completely closed to visitors and it is not allowing transit passengers either. There is no end date to the restrictions.
Thailand shut down its borders in late March. A state of emergency is in effect at least through May. Some Americans and other visitors who are stuck in Thailand are hoping borders will reopen by the end of July.
Phuket, the popular tourist destination, has been a coronavirus hotspot, as has the megacity of Bangkok. Those two destinations are likely to be the last to reopen.
Analysts don’t expect a rebound in tourism to Thailand until 2021.
Vietnam is in the process of slowly reopening, but foreigners are not welcome and there is no timeline on when that could change. Some tourist attractions have reopened but American citizens were being advised in March and April to leave the country on one of the few flights out. Foreigners were banned as of March 22.
There is some good news to report. Domestic tourism within Vietnam is now open again, and Vietnam is in talks with several other countries to created so-called “travel bubbles’ allowing citizens of trusted neighbors to visit. China and South Korea would likely be the first. Vietnam has had less than 300 cases and zero deaths from coronavirus.
The death toll in the world’s fourth-most-populous nation is now approaching 1,000. Travel has been banned, but the government is trying to fully reopen the economy by early August.
It’s unclear if that will include a return of tourism or even business travel. For now, no foreigners are allowed into the country, including Bali.
Malaysia banned tourists in the middle of March along with a nationwide shutdown. Most businesses were allowed to reopen in early May. Malaysia is still advising tourists to avoid coming. In fact, on May 10, the prime minister extended the restrictions through at least June 9. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has eased restrictions on internal travel.
All international arrivals, including Malaysian citizens, are required to undergo 14-day quarantine.
This island nation has had one of the world’s most successful responses to the coronavirus outbreaks. However, one aspect of successful containment involves greatly limiting the number of incoming travelers from other countries. To that end, Taiwan has banned international travelers as of March 19, including all transit passengers passing through the nation en route to other destinations.
Philippines President Duterte recently extended a lockdown on Manila and other high-risk areas until the middle of May. A ban on international travelers went into effect on March 22. There are more than 10,000 confirmed cases, a majority of them in Manila.
The Bureau of Immigration stated on May 11 that no foreigners are allowed into the country. Spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said, “Only Filipinos, their foreign spouse and children, accredited foreign government and international organization officials, and foreign airline crew shall remain eligible to enter the Philippines.”
Early lockdowns have been credited with keeping coronavirus relatively contained “down under,” but Australia remains closed to foreign visitors. The country has had fewer than 100 deaths.
Foreigners are banned except for a few emergency exemptions that must be cleared in advance, and arriving citizens and non-citizens are subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Australian leaders have suggested foreign travel for Australians might not even be possible until 2021.
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham told ABC Australia’s morning show, “I wouldn’t put any guarantees that you could undertake that overseas trip in December,” but the government has since softened its tone.
In fact, the governments of Australia and New Zealand are discussing a so-called “travel bubble” that may allow tourism only between the two nations (and possibly Fiji), but nothing firm has been decided just yet.
Meanwhile, Australian leaders have said October is probably the earliest they would again allow international travel.
New Zealand has been praised for its early and tough restrictions that kept cases of coronavirus low in the country. The country has only had 20 deaths. It restricted travel from Wuhan, China, by February 3.
A complete ban on foreigners is now in effect and the border is effectively closed to foreign tourists. From the government website: “The New Zealand border is currently closed to almost all travelers to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The travel ban applies to all arrivals into New Zealand whether it is by air or sea.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand, “Both our countries’ strong record on fighting the virus has placed us in the enviable position of being able to plan the next stage in our economic rebuild and to include trans-Tasman travel and engagement in our strategy.”
Tahiti and the other islands of French Polynesia are off-limits to tourists for now. The islands instituted mandatory 14-day quarantines for all foreigners back in March, but have now forbidden foreigners and also pulled the plug on inter-island flying. I had a trip planned in March that I ended up cancelling at the last minute — thankfully — as the quarantine was instituted the day before I was set to arrive and then we got reports foreigners were being asked to leave. I’ve rebooked the trip for late September, but it’s unclear if Americans will be welcome even then.
The islands are in a slow reopening for their own residents, but visitors are still not allowed. Inter-island travel is still not allowed, but outer island residents stranded in Tahiti will get clearance to return home if they test negative for the virus. There have been fewer than 60 confirmed cases so far.
This aspirational vacation destination has been heavily affected by coronavirus shutdowns. Travelers originating from China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Bangladesh, Germany, Spain, France, Malaysia, U.K. and Sri Lanka are not permitted within the country at this time.
Related: Dreaming of the Pacific Islands
Fiji has recorded only 15 cases so far, thanks in part to a strict lockdown as of March 15. The country is essentially closed to tourism with no signs of easing the lockdown anytime soon.
Fiji Airways grounded 95% of its flights and at least 279 hotels have closed.
Fiji is apparently in talks with Australia and New Zealand about entering into their so-called “travel bubble” that would allow citizens of the three countries to travel freely, but nothing has been finalized. Obviously, Americans would not be included in that agreement.
Israel has had more than 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and more than 250 deaths, but is already easing restrictions imposed to fight the spread of Covid-19 disease. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had quarantined himself after an aide got sick, but has since emerged unaffected. In a televised speech in mid-April he said, “We start opening up both the personal sphere and the economic sphere.”
Restaurants and bars are set to reopen between now and mid-June, depending on location. Some parks will reopen soon, but so far a ban on beaches remains in effect.
On March 18, the government announced that foreigners, including U.S. citizens, would not be allowed to enter Israel. There are no current plans to ease that restriction. Some Israeli citizens returning from overseas are being allowed to return and self-quarantine.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is beginning to ease some strict lockdown measures, but is still not welcoming tourists and a curfew remains in effect. There are some flights between the U.S. and Abu Dhabi (one on May 15 for example), but most international flying is still forbidden.
Jordan has had more than 500 cases of coronavirus. It is in the middle of relaxing strict lockdown measures. On March 17 and until further notice, the government suspended all inbound and outbound flights and closed land and sea borders to passenger traffic. Tourism remains off-limits.
Jordan had reopened its border with Saudi Arabia, but a small cluster of cases that resulted has them now considering a quarantine of arriving truck drivers.
Gatherings of more than five people were banned in early May as the kingdom struggles to get coronavirus under control. There have been more than 35,000 cases. Tourism is forbidden.
Kuwait enacted a curfew from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. through May 30 to stop the spread of COVID-19. The country has had more than 7,000 cases and more than 45 deaths.
Qatar’s death toll is 12; it has more than 20,000 cases. Qatar banned inbound flights on March 18 except for cargo and transit flights. Tourists are not welcome.
Italy has been among the hardest-hit countries with more than 30,000 deaths and more than 200,000 people have been sickened. It has been under lockdown the longest of any nation. Italy said it will allow factories and most building sites to reopen on May 4. It will also begin some limited family visits within the country.
About two weeks after that, retail stores will be allowed to open with limitations. Museums and libraries can open again as of May 18. Restaurants and bars are reopening after the first of June.
Related: Dreaming of Italy
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is insisting that social-distancing rules will be in place for months. He also said church services remain banned, angering many in the heavily Roman Catholic country.
Rome-Ciampino Airport (CIA) and the Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola (FLR) in Florence have both reopened but only for flyers from the Schengen area.
So far no word on a timeline for reopening Italy to tourists. Italy’s tourism minister Lorenza Bonaccorsi said 2020 tourism might be “written off,” but said reports that the country won’t reopen until 2021 are false and that the country wants tourism to resume as soon as it’s safe.
Malta began reopening on May 1. Coronavirus cases have been on the decline and the country’s Prime Minister Robert Abela said at a news conference, “I am pleased we have managed to weather the storm without having succumbed to pressure to order a total lockdown. The government is now starting a three-week program to reopen most commercial activity.”
Malta is small island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean and has only reported 450 cases. Still, there’s no indication the nation is open to foreign tourists, and the nation’s tourism department doesn’t recommend immediate near-term bookings. As you can see in the video below the county has an advertising campaign with the tagline, “Dream Malta now, visit later.”
Greece is a rare bright spot for foreign tourists. The country locked everything down March 23 and it’s believed to have prevented a severe COVID-19 outbreak. As of May 11, Greece had only 151 deaths.
Greece started easing lockdown measures on May 4 in a three-part process due to be complete by June 1. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the country had contained the virus’s first wave.
He told CNN he wanted the country reopened fully to tourists by July 1.
Some good news from France which has been especially hard hit by coronavirus: President Emmanuel Macron said the strict lockdown will begin coming to an end after May 11 and travel from one part of France to another will be allowed again.
The country will slowly reopen with shops, schools and some markets allowed to resume business. France will still require face masks on public transportation and work-from-home orders will remain in effect for at least several more weeks.
Passengers arriving in France from non-Schengen member states are not allowed to enter the country. It’s unclear how long that ban will last.
The European Union’s ban on most foreigners expires May 15, but it’s likely to be extended.
Spain has had more than 27,000 deaths and is among the hardest-hit countries in the world. A strict lockdown began to ease in early May but a resurgence in the number of new cases has the government reconsidering the timeline for reopening.
A national state of emergency is expected to be extended to May 23 and potentially longer.
A phased reopening will come over the summer, but that doesn’t include allowing tourists. It is unlikely tourism will resume before the end of the summer, if then.
Portugal has started relaxing its lockdown within the country, but international visitors are still not welcome. It had a strict six-week lockdown that helped limit cases. The country has had more than 27,000 cases and over 1,000 deaths, but those numbers are far fewer than in neighboring Spain.
Prime Minister António Costa told Rádio Observador, “As we relax the measures, the risk of contamination increases. Politicians have to take care not to let their wishes override scientific know-how.”
Switzerland banned foreigners on March 26 except for those with a work or residence permit. Only citizens of Liechtenstein were exempted. As of May 11, some Europeans will be allowed into Switzerland but restrictions are still strict. Those entry permissions are generally only for workers or family members of Swiss nationals.
The country has been hard hit by COVID-19 with 30,000 cases and 1,500 deaths. Tourism remains forbidden.
Belgium forbade all international travel early in the pandemic, according to the United States Embassy in Belgium. Any travelers who are permitted entry (there are strict restrictions) must self-quarantine for 14 days. The country started easing its strict lockdown on May 4 and will continue to open parts of the country in a phased way, but tourism is not among the phases.
Luxembourg has had 101 deaths from coronavirus and has begun to allow cross-border trips with some of its neighbors. However, that is for essential services and cross-border workers only. Germany still has its border with Luxembourg closed. Some stores have reopened, but schools won’t be fully open until the end of May.
Tourism remains forbidden.
Germany has had many fewer deaths than its European neighbors like Italy and Spain. Still, it has had more than 169,000 cases and there have been than 7,000 deaths.
Most events are canceled, including one of the key events in the German tourism calendar — Oktoberfest. That’s in October, which tells you how long the Germans feel the shutdowns will last.
Right now, tourism to and within Germany is forbidden. Chancellor Angela Merkel has resisted calls to reopen Germany’s borders to the rest of Europe.
Right now, entry to Germany for tourism is strictly prohibited.
Small shops in Austria were allowed to reopen on April 14 and all trade is allowed as of May 1. Restaurants will be allowed to open beginning in mid-May and hotels on May 29. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said that it might be necessary to require a health certificate for travel that shows a traveler is coronavirus-free, but no decisions have been made. There had been reports that no travel would be allowed until there is a vaccine, but the government has backed away from that suggestion.
The Austrian government says it intends to “cautiously” reopen the country’s tourism sector for foreigners this summer, but details are sketchy and the only folks likely to be allowed to visit at first would be from nearby countries with low infection rates. The Washington Post reports that it is unknown when true international tourism will resume.
Poland began reopening after a brief lockdown in April. They are in the middle of a four-stage reopening, but borders will remain closed for now. There are a few humanitarian/repatriation flights to the U.S. happening, but no tourism.
There have been more than 15,000 cases and more than 750 deaths.
Bulgaria banned foreigners early in April and the ban remains in effect until at least May 13. That includes fellow members of the European Union. Locals are allowed to return but must quarantine for 14 days. The country has had dozens of deaths, but fewer than 2,000 reported cases.
In early May, the government held celebrations for its Armed Forces Day with military demonstrations and a remote military parade.
Albania suspended all commercial flights into and out of the nation back in March with the exception of Air Albania for humanitarian flights and trips to Istanbul. Land and air borders are closed to tourists and to most others.
Hungary has also banned foreigners. Hungarians returning home have to undergo a medical examination. A humanitarian corridor is open for foreigners traveling across Hungary into neighboring countries. Freight operators are also exempted.
Interestingly, Hungarian-based Wizz Air has resumed some flights within Europe and the U.K., but it looks like those are for essential workers and Hungarian citizens only.
Ukraine is in the middle of a gradual reopening of the country, but that doesn’t include foreign visitors. The country is allowing citizens to come home via repatriation flights, but a lockdown was extended through late May.
Reuters is reporting May 11 that a new surge in COVID-19 cases means Russia now has more cases than Italy and Britain. Moscow is the biggest hot spot. Only Spain and the U.S. have more cases.
Vladimir Putin was set to announce a slow easing of restrictions to get the economy moving by June 1, but it is unclear if that includes travel.
Right now, Russians need a permit to travel, and foreigners are not welcome.
The Czech Republic’s foreign minister says Czech citizens may be able to visit nearby Schengen-area countries like Austria as soon as July. He said:
“We wanted to open Slovakia or Austria for tourists, for instance, as of July, and possibly other destinations as of August. If the situation remains positive, it may be even faster. However, in the case of the most afflicted countries, such as Italy, France and the USA, it is too early to speak about when it may be possible to travel there.
“I believe that as of July, we could return to the normal functioning of the Schengen Area. The situation will be naturally different in the countries where the epidemic will not develop well and where the infection slowdown is not so strong as in our region.”
The Czech Republic is allowing visitors from nearby nations, but they need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result at the border.
The United Kingdom has been especially hard-hit by coronavirus with more than 28,000 deaths. Prime Minister Boris Johnson famously got and survived COVID-19.
But the U.K. has kept an open-border policy. About 15,000 passengers arrive at U.K. airports each day.
The Points Guy UK editor Emily McNutt says the government has been slow to release a policy for airports and passengers arriving in the U.K. She writes:
“… the government revealed that as part of a phased lifting of restrictions, it may require anyone entering the country … to self-quarantine for 14 days. Under the plan, all travelers would be required to fill out an arrival card. The landing card would include details about their health and the address where they would self-isolate for the 14-day period.
Officials would be able to visit the registered addresses of those who arrive in the U.K. as marked on their arrival card to make sure they were adhering to quarantine measures. Anyone found to not be abiding by the quarantine measures could be subject to a fine.”
There remains no outright ban on foreign arrivals, and the policies remain unclear (for example, there are reports France might be exempted if a ban is imposed). There had been talk of screening all arriving passengers but that seems to have been shelved.
Several airports in the U.K. are now requiring travelers to wear face masks and gloves.
Heathrow Airport in London (LHR) is set to test new screening methods soon including ultraviolet sanitation, facial recognition thermal screenings and contactless security.
Ireland is in the middle of a five phase reopening. Hotels, museums and galleries are set to reopen July 20, but pubs won’t reopen until August 10.
Hotels and hostels can open as soon as July 20 but with limited occupancy.
Still, arriving foreigners with the exception of people from Northern Ireland must self-isolate for 14-days.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned, “We have not yet won this fight,” and said the country would quickly go back to tighter restrictions if the virus rebounds.
Scotland announced a “Dream Now, Travel Later,” campaign in April so don’t expect them to throw out the welcome mat anytime soon, but a phased reopening of the country has been announced. Still like the U.K. as a whole, outright bans on entry have not been put into place, at least not yet.
Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon suggests normal won’t return anytime soon. Lockdown restrictions will only gradually be lifted, and any welcoming of tourists may be for residents of the United Kingdom only at first.
As of May 11, The Netherlands has had more than 42,000 cases of coronavirus. The country is in the process of a slow reopening, but that still doesn’t include tourists.
The U.S. embassy writes, “The Dutch government is strictly enforcing the EU travel restrictions banning all nonessential travel from outside the EU. The ban went into effect on March 19, 2020 and has been extended through May 15, 2020.” That ban is likely to be extended.
Americans are allowed to transit the airport only and a health certificate is required.
The borders to Denmark are closed to foreign visitors until June 1 at the earliest.
Denmark became one of the first European nations to announce a slow easing of restrictions. Schools reopened as of April 15, and some businesses have also reopened. Border controls are remaining in place for now, and leaders say if the country sees a climb in infections, they will reimpose restrictions.
Norway imposed a strict lockdown early in the pandemic.
In late February, Norway began testing all arriving international passengers. By March 12, most of the country was already closed down.
Norway has been able to limit the spread and has a reported 8,100 cases and 219 deaths. It began reopening in mid-April. The country is on track to open all businesses, schools and restaurants this summer. Large gatherings remain banned.
It is still not welcoming many tourists, and it is unlikely international tourists will be allowed this summer.
Some hotels have already partially reopened. They include the luxury hotel The Britannia in Trondheim.
Sweden has become well-known during the coronavirus crisis for not shutting down, instead hoping the population would develop “herd immunity” without hurting the economy or killing too many people. Unfortunately, Sweden has the highest number of deaths and cases in Scandinavia, though those numbers are lower than other countries in Europe so far.
Still, there is currently a full entry ban into the EU in place for non-Europeans, including Americans. That ban expires on May 15 but could be extended.
Finland is not accepting tourists and has strict border controls in place. It will slowly allow travel to countries in Europe’s Schengen border-free zone as of May 14, but that doesn’t include tourists. It’s unclear when tourism will be allowed to resume. Finland has had fewer than 300 deaths.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin at a recent news conference said, “Because we have succeeded well in containing the spread of the epidemic in Finland for the time being, it is possible to move from widespread restrictions towards the principles of a hybrid strategy of testing, tracing, isolating and treating.”
Estonia’s borders are still open and it is still allowing tourists but recommending visitors put off trips for now. The government says, “Out of consideration for the health of international visitors as well as residents of Estonia, we recommend postponing your trips.”
Like other European nations, Estonia is asking visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Border-entry health checks are mandatory and visitors must fill out a form testifying to their good health.
Estonia is allowing neighbors from Lithuania and Latvia to travel freely across its borders beginning May 15.
Like the rest of Europe, Lithuania is not allowing most foreigners, including Americans, into the country. They are in the middle of a phased reopening, but it’s unlikely U.S. tourists will be allowed in anytime soon. Lithuania has among the lowest death rates in Europe with fewer than 50, but it’s not taking any chances. Beginning May 11, European Union (EU) citizens will be allowed to come to Lithuania for work, business or educational purposes, but they will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. Interestingly, citizens of neighboring Baltic countries will no longer face restrictions on entry — a so-called “Baltic bubble.”
Like its neighbors, Latvia is reopening partially and will allow citizens of Estonia and Lithuania to come and go freely across its borders. Americans are among those who are not yet welcome.
Slovakia shut its borders early and it has a correspondingly low infection rate. It has just reopened the border to neighbors from Austria, Hungary, and Czech Republic but others are not welcome at this time.
Croatia is in the middle of a slow reopening. The tourism minister says the country will slowly again start welcoming tourism, but that doesn’t yet include many international tourists. Only Croatian citizens are allowed into the country, aside for some essential workers. Citizens of Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro are allowed to cross the border, but most people who are staying are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Some Europeans are being allowed into the country, but Americans will not be welcomed until at least June 15 and it’s likely to be later.
Like Switzerland, Liechtenstein is not allowing any foreigners, aside from EU citizens with family or work in the country, to enter. There is no timeline on when tourism might resume.
All 3 Slovak international airports closed on March 12. All new arrivals into the country are required to quarantine for 14 days. Slovakia has not discussed opening up to outsiders except the possibility of allowing some residents of nearby countries to come in.
Serbia declared a state of emergency on March 15 and it forbids foreigners except for diplomats and legal residents from entering the country.
Epidemiologist Predrag Kon, a member of Serbia’s crisis staff, said on May 11 that some foreigners will be allowed in: “Those who come to Serbia will have to have a [negative result on a] PCR test not older than 72 hours; if they do not have it, they will have to go into self-isolation if it is our citizen, or isolation with health supervision for a foreign citizen.”
In other words? Tourists are generally not welcome.
Air Serbia had completely shut down air traffic, but now says it will resume regular service on June 1.
Turkey suspended international flights to and from the country on March 28. The country said in early May it would begin to reopen some tourist sites, but there is no timetable for allowing international visitors. Turkey has had more than 138,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths.
Iceland has had less severe lockdowns than most other countries, but a ban on most foreign tourists is in place until at least May 15 and will likely not be lifted for the foreseeable future. The country has only had 1,800 cases and 10 deaths, but tourism remains off the table for now.
After being shut down for nearly two months, Egypt has started to reopen. It’s starting by opening its hotels to domestic tourists under the strict condition that they cannot operate at more than 25% capacity until the end of May and can increase to 50% capacity on June 1. Reuters also reported that hotels must implement new health measures, there must be a clinic with a resident doctor to regularly screen temperatures and disinfectant equipment must be installed, among other precautionary measures.
International flights will remain suspended, but Tourism Minister Khaled al Anani told Arab Media that domestic air traffic would resume between certain cities in the near future, and that there have been discussions with certain countries about eventually resuming international flights to Egypt. He also added that every other seat on domestic flights would be left empty.
It’s been estimated that Egypt has and will continue to lose 1 billion tourism dollars for each month that it’s closed. Although Egypt’s coronavirus cases have continued to gradually rise, with the highest daily increase being reported on May 5 at 388, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly has said the country will start returning to normal life gradually after Ramadan is over.
The Kenyan government allowed restaurants to reopen on May 4 under strict measures aimed at maintaining social distancing. However, not every city is following suit. For instance, Mombasa County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo halted the reopening of eateries in Mombasa, stating, “Forget the suggestion of reopening the restaurants here in Mombasa. It will not happen until the time we will be satisfied that the number of the infections has been flattened. So those restaurants will remain closed because you have refused to adhere to small guidelines, because what is lacking is discipline.”
Coronavirus-related deaths in Kenya have been relatively few at 24, but recently cases have begun to rise with the easing of restrictions. “Defeating coronavirus is not a sprint. This is not an issue that we will be able to dispense with in the short term. And therefore, we must always be ready and prepared to enforce our containment measures and to learn to live in a new normal.” said Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, a health minister in Kenya.
This island nation remains off-limits to tourists. The country went into lockdown early (March 20) and there’s been a national curfew imposed since March 24. There is a total ban on travelers and no sign of that being eased anytime soon.
Related: Planning a dream trip to Mauritius
Morocco will remain on lockdown until at least May 20. However, it’s been reported by local media that lockdown orders have not been uniformly followed, with many neighbors gathering for prayer during the holy month of Ramadan.
To help fight coronavirus, Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones for surveillance, public service announcements and sanitization.
Namibia entered its second phase of reopening on May 5, allowing domestic travel to resume. Many businesses will also be allowed to reopen under new health measures, including shopping malls, retail stores, restaurants, hairdressers and barbers.
This phase is expected to last until June 1, when the government will reassess and potentially enter a third phase. Until then, foreign visitors will continue to be banned and masks will be required in public places.
South Africa began to ease restrictions on May 1 after five weeks of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns that included a nightly curfew, limited exercise hours and a total ban on alcohol and tobacco sales. The eased restrictions will allow for more exercise time (three hours in the morning) and restaurants will be allowed to reopen, but only for delivery. Social distancing rules and masks in public will remain mandatory.
Tanzania hasn’t been very forthcoming on how they’re handling the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a lot of criticism. At the start of the pandemic, President John Magufuli declined to close churches, saying that the virus “cannot survive in the body of Christ — it will burn.” It was also reported that he said that updates from the country’s health ministry on coronavirus cases and deaths were “causing panic.”
Tanzania’s reported coronavirus cases are comparatively low, but experts say the toll is probably much higher.
Uganda extended its lockdown another two weeks. However, the country has also eased some of its lockdown restrictions, allowing some businesses like hardware shops, restaurants and wholesale stores to reopen.
Previously, the government imposed strict restrictions that included the closure of all but absolutely essential businesses, dusk-to-dawn curfews, and bans on both private and public vehicles.
President Yoweri Museveni declared the infection “tamed,” but schools and international borders will remain closed until further notice, according to Reuters.
Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:
- How coronavirus is impacting airline award availability
- How coronavirus has left the travel industry reeling
- Airlines scale back inflight offerings due to coronavirus
- How to ward off coronavirus in your hotel room
- Guide to traveling during the coronavirus outbreak
- Extreme measures cruise lines are taking during coronavirus
Additional reporting by Katherine Fan and Liz Hund.
Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.