Coronavirus Travel Update: Which Destinations Are Reopening?

Some countries, such as Australia, are cautiously lifting their lockdown orders
Some countries, such as Australia, are cautiously lifting their lockdown orders | © Robert Wallace / Wallace Media Network / Alamy Stock Photo
From restaurants, shops and museums to beauty spots and other tourist attractions, the world is slowly beginning to open back up as governments ease lockdown measures and lift travel restrictions. Culture Trip lists the latest news on domestic tourism for users in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, as well as up-to-date information on international travel bubbles.

Where can I travel domestically?

In the US

Stay-at-home orders have been lifted in almost every state, with a number of restrictions on open spaces having been eased. The New York Times reports on the latest states to have softened lockdown measures, including the reopening of tourist attractions.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly advises against any non-essential travel within the United States. “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 travelling,” it says on the CDC website.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware jointly agreed to allow beaches and lakeside shores to open for the Memorial Day weekend – the last weekend in May – but they operated at reduced capacity and with restrictions, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said, according to a report in The New York Times.

Beaches and boardwalks along the Jersey Shore and lakes throughout New Jersey were also open for Memorial Day weekend, with some restrictions, as announced last week by New Jersey governor Phil Murphy. Beaches and lakefronts must curb the number of visitors given access, so people can properly socially distance. Families and households are allowed to cluster together, but otherwise people need to be 6ft apart, the governor said, reports.

On Monday, Californian governor Gavin Newsom loosened rules put in place to limit coronavirus infection rates. The rules will allow restaurant dining rooms and shopping malls to open again in counties that meet the new criteria. Even spectator-free sporting events could be available as soon as the first week of June.

In Florida, restaurants, malls, libraries and gyms are now able to open at 50% capacity, according to CNN. The cities of Miami and Miami Beach – with its famous Ocean Drive – are still shut down.

The Florida Keys are planning to welcome back visitors by 1 June, though they will initially cut their occupancy by half, according to local officials. “Tourism is the economic lifeblood of the Keys and almost half of our workforce is employed in visitor-related jobs,” Rita Irwin, chair of the destination management office for the Florida Keys and Key West, said in a press release announcing the reopening.

ABC reported that all Texas restaurants had ramped up capacity from 25% to 50% since May 22. Bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls, skating rinks, drive-ins, zoos and aquariums can open at a 25% capacity. Interactive amusement venues, such as video arcades, amusement parks and water parks are to remain closed, however.

Museums and cultural institutions across the country are beginning to reopen following the shutdown by the coronavirus outbreak. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, was among the first major art museums in the US to reopen, Artfix Daily reported on May 24. New protocols for visitors are in place, from compulsory wearing of masks and temperature testing, to timed tickets for entry and social distancing of two metres (six feet) between household groups.

More museums are opening, with new policies in place, as The New York Times reports. The San Antonio Museum of Art on May 28; the Boca Raton Museum of Art on June 3; the Wichita Art Museum on June 23; the Cleveland Museum of Art around June 30.

In Canada

Yahoo! News reports on a province-by-province breakdown of the easing of lockdown restrictions across the country. According to the article, there were no plans to reduce measures yet in Nunavut, Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nova Scotia.

Museums, art galleries and other tourist attractions across the country are reopening with physical distancing measures in place. Starting May 29, museums, libraries and drive-in cinemas across Quebec will be permitted to reopen. However, it will take longer for some museums to adapt to new guidelines, reports.

In Montreal, the McCord Museum will reopen on June 23 and the Stewart Museum on June 25. In Quebec City, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) will reopen on June 29.

In British Columbia, where provincial parks reopened on 14 May, Premier John Horgan is still urging residents not to venture too far. “Let’s stay close to home – this is not the time for a road trip to another community for a hike, or a holiday,” he said.

In the UK

Under the UK Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy, presented by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 11 May 2020, people are able to drive to open parks and spaces “irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there”.

However, as the guidelines in England differ to those in other UK countries, the strategy states: “When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.”

The new rules have sparked dismay in tourist hotspots such as Cornwall and the Lake District, where heads of tourism are concerned the influx of visitors will undermine efforts to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

UK campsites, hotels, holiday parks and tourist attractions are preparing to reopen in July, with social distancing measures in place and reduced capacity. According to the government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy, accommodation providers may be able to resume business from 4 July, subject to certain conditions.

According to The Guardian, Cool Camping, a UK camping and glamping website, has stated that since Boris Johnson announced the recovery plan in early May, bookings have increased five-fold.

On May 25, the UK government unveiled its full list of retailers that can reopen on June 15 under new guidelines, including gift shops in museums, retail spaces in theatres, libraries, heritage sites and tourism sites, thus paving the way for visitors to tourist attractions.

However, museums in England will remain closed until at least July 4. Some English leisure venues and public spaces will be able to reopen in step three of the government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy, but could be postponed depending on scientific advice and whether certain lockdown measures – such as a sustained fall in death rates, and a manageable rate of infection – are being met.

The Welsh and Scottish governments have not yet announced specific policies relating to museums reopening, the Museums Association reports.

In Ireland

The Irish Republic began its first phase of five in relaxing its coronavirus restrictions on 18 May. Some outdoor public and tourism amenities, including car parks, beaches and mountain walks, have reopened. However, the 5km (3mi) travel limit on journeys from home continues to apply.

Under Phase Two of relaxing lockdown measures, due to take place on 8 June, restrictions on exercise will be extended from within 5km (3mi) of your home to 20km (12mi).

Under Phase Three (29 June), some cafés and restaurants can reopen, while under Phase Four (20 July), museums, art galleries and other cultural destinations where people are moving can reopen, as well as hotels, caravan parks and holiday parks. Pubs, bars and nightclubs won’t open until 10 August, under Phase Five of lifting the restrictions.

Heritage Ireland has provided a list of Ireland’s heritage sites and national parks and their roadmap to reopening. The list includes some of Ireland’s most popular free-to-enter attractions, including Kilkenny Castle Parklands, Glendalough in Co Wicklow, National Botanic Gardens, and Castletown House Parklands.

In Australia

The Australian government is asking its residents to avoid non-essential travel within the country. States and territories can apply their own restrictions as well, including closing their borders and requiring self-isolation.

National galleries and museums are set to reopen to the public on May 30 following closure during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Australian Associated Press reports. Around 4.5m people visit the National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Australia, National Film and Sound Archives, and the Australian National Maritime Museum each year.

It is hoped the states and territories will also follow suit in reopening museums, galleries and libraries.

Special arrangements will be in place, including timed entry and one-way flow through gallery spaces; visitors may also be asked to provide contact information to allow public health tracing.

There will also be increased signage throughout buildings and more frequent cleaning of “touch” areas.

In New Zealand

New Zealand is currently in Alert Level 2 in its four-level alert system to manage the pandemic’s outbreak across the country.

The government states that under the current alert level, “you can travel around the country [without restriction] if you follow good personal health measures”.

“You will need to keep records of what travel services you use and keep track of who you have been in contact with,” the guidelines continue. “You should keep your distance from groups of people you don’t know. You should minimise the number of places you stop on the way to your destination.”

Museums and cultural institutions nationwide are in the process of reopening. The Museum of New Zealand, the country’s national museum in Wellington, will begin a phased reopening from Thursday 28 May. Closed since March 20, the cultural institution, known as Te Papa, will register visitors on arrival for contact tracing, and take steps to ensure that you can practise distancing and good hygiene.

Is international travel allowed?


The United States and Canada have agreed to keep their shared border closed to non-essential travel until 21 June, The Associated Press reports.

The border was initially shut for 30 days on 21 March in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. On 18 April, the restrictions were extended until 21 May, as cases continued to go up on both sides of the border; on 19 May they were extended for another month.


From 8 June, 14-day quarantines will be imposed on new arrivals to the UK, with fines for anyone who breaches the measure, The Guardian reports.

Home secretary Priti Patel announced that mandatory self-isolation would not apply to people coming from Ireland, medics tackling Covid-19 and seasonal agricultural workers.

Travellers will have to fill in a form providing contact and travel information so they can be traced if infections arise. They could be contacted regularly during the fortnight and face random checks from public health authorities to ensure compliance.

Breaches will be punishable with a £1,000 fixed-penalty notice in England, while devolved nations can set out their own enforcement approaches.

All passengers arriving at Irish ports and airports will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, RTE reports.

The ruling applies to all citizens, including Irish and British.

However, due to the Common Travel Area, the British Government will not require a 14-day period of self-isolation for people travelling from the Republic of Ireland to the UK.

Australia-New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are planning to open their borders for a trans-Tasman “travel bubble”, allowing citizens and residents to move freely between the two nations.

Plans for a travel bubble could be in place by June 1, with temperature checks and masks under consideration.

In 2019, 1.5m Australians visited New Zealand, making up the largest group (40 percent) of foreign visitors to the country, while 1.4m New Zealanders visited Australia, accounting for 15 percent of its total visitors, reports.

Other countries


Beginning in early June, Italy will reopen to European tourists and no longer require a 14-day mandatory quarantine period, the country’s government has announced.

Visitors within the Schengen area will be allowed to enter Italy from 3 June. Italians will also be able to travel internally between various regions. However, if coronavirus cases increase, local authorities can limit travel, the website reports.

Regions, “in relation to specific states and territories, in accordance with the principles of adequacy and proportionality to the epidemiological risk”, can also limit movements to and from abroad, the government said in a statement.

Baltic States

As the first “travel bubble” in the European Union, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia opened their borders to each other on Friday, 15 May, hoping to jump-start their economies, Al Jazeera reports.

Citizens and residents of the three Baltic nations can travel freely within the region; however, those arriving from other countries will have to self-isolate for 14 days.


Spain aims to reopen its borders around the end of June as its coronavirus lockdown fully unwinds, Reuters reports.

“We can’t allow foreigners to travel while the Spanish population is confined,” Spain’s transport minister Jose Luis told broadcaster TVE. “From late June, we’ll start tourism activity, I hope. We must make Spain an attractive country from a health point of view.”


Portugal has announced it will reopen its beaches from 6 June. Prime Minister Antonio Costa said that sunbathers will need to comply with social-distancing rules, which in Portugal require a distance of 1.5m (5ft) separation, as The Independent reports.

Beach capacity will be reduced, but holidaymakers can download an app that will notify them if there is sunbathing space available.


Greece’s tourist season will officially begin on 15 June, the country’s prime minister has announced. Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an address. “The tourism period begins then and seasonal hotels can reopen. Let us make this summer the epilogue of the [Covid-19] crisis.” He added that international flights to popular destinations across the country would resume in July.


France’s borders are scheduled to reopen, initially with Switzerland and Germany, on 15 June, but the country has extended its state of emergency measures until at least 24 July, with non-essential trips outlawed and overseas arrivals required to self-isolate for two weeks.


Iceland aims to welcome international travellers back by 15 June, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has announced. However, according to Bloomberg, visitors will be required to undergo a Covid-19 test upon arrival and be declared negative to avoid a 14-day quarantine.

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is expected to become the first Caribbean island to reopen to international tourists on 4 June, Insider reports. Visitors will have to present a negative coronavirus test upon arrival, and should expect temperature checks at the airport and in hotels and restaurants, as well as requirements to wear a mask and social distance.


Cambodia has removed its ban on visitors from some countries, imposed since mid-March.

The Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) national news agency reported that foreigners from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US are allowed to enter Cambodia, but with some conditions.

The AKP report added that all travellers entering Cambodia will be required to have a health certificate confirming that the passenger has been tested for Covid-19 and obtained a negative result. A health risk assessment will also be applied to anyone entering the country. In addition, foreign nationals must provide proof of insurance coverage during their intended stay in Cambodia with a minimum medical coverage of at least $50,000.
This article was first published on 18 May at 20:30 GMT. It was last updated on 26 May at 18:00 GMT.