Back to pubs, gyms and movies: plotting the road back to normal around the world

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As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout gains momentum, many countries are planning a gradual return to normal, opening borders and letting people back into restaurants, shops and sports venues after more than a year of on-off lockdowns.

Here are some of their plans, in alphabetical order:


Australia, which plans to allow international travel from mid-2022, lifted a ban on its citizens returning from India on May 14.


Belgium plans to ease nearly all lockdown measures from June 9 provided the momentum of its vaccination campaign continues and the number of people in intensive care units remains under 500.


Non-essential retailers in England reopened on April 12 along with pubs and restaurants operating outdoors. Indoor hospitality, cinemas, theatres, and sports halls reopened on May 17. Britain also allowed international travel to resume, but people arriving from most destinations are still subject to quarantine.

The one-metre plus social distancing rule for restaurants and pubs might be ditched on June 21.


France allowed cafes, bars and restaurants to offer outside service from May 19. Indoor dining will be allowed from June 30.

It also pushed back a nightly curfew to 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) from 7 p.m. It will be moved to 11 p.m. from June 9 and scrapped completely on June 30.

All shops, museums, cinemas and theatres, reopened on May 19. Foreign tourists with a “health pass” will be able to visit France from June 9.

Disneyland Paris will re-open on June 17.


Germany eased restrictions on people who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus from May 9, lifting curfews and quarantine rules as well as the obligation to provide a negative test result to visit a hairdresser, zoo or to go shopping.

From May 12, travellers can enter the country without the need to quarantine, except those arriving from countries designated as risk areas.

Berlin has agreed to lift a nightly curfew and ease restrictions on shopping from May 19 and to allow outdoor dining from May 21, if the seven-day incidence remains below 100 for three consecutive days.

Other regions, such as the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate, are planning a three-stage opening scheme that started from May 12, with indoor restaurants opening on June 2 in areas of incidence below 50.

The state of Bavaria allowed outdoor dining and the opening of concert halls, opera houses, theatres and cinemas from May 10 in areas with low incidence rates. Hotels, holiday homes and campsites started reopening from May 21. It also allowed travel to Austria.

Lower Saxony eased restrictions from May 10 in low incidence areas for those vaccinated, with a negative test result or proof of recovery. This included the reopening of outdoor dining, accommodation for local travellers, and all retail stores.

Hamburg will allow outdoor dining venues and retail stores to reopen from May 22, with theatres and concert halls set to follow from May 28.


Greece reopened restaurants and bars from May 3, organised beaches on May 8, and tourism industry on May 15. Tourists from the EU, Britain, the United States and Israel are allowed to visit as long as they have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus.


Italian coffee bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatres partially reopened in most regions on April 26, and indoor dining will be allowed from June 1.

Open-air swimming pools opened from May 15 and some gym activities will restart on June 1.

Italy lifted quarantine restrictions for travellers arriving from European and Schengen zone countries, Britain and Israel from May 15.

On May 18, it pushed back a nightly curfew to 11 p.m. from 10 p.m. and eased other curbs in low-risk regions. The curfew will begin at midnight from June 7 and be abolished from June 21. Gyms will reopen on May 24 and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers at inside tables from June 1.


The Netherlands lifted a nationwide curfew on April 28.

Parks, zoos, gyms and outdoor swimming pools reopened on May 19, while outdoor service at bars and restaurants was extended by two hours until 8 p.m. Public libraries opened on May 20, with museums and indoor service at restaurants expected to follow in next three weeks.


Poland reopened shopping centres on May 4, hotels from May 8, and restaurants can serve food outdoors from May 15. By the end of May, all children should be able to return to school, and events such as weddings with up to 50 people will be allowed.

It also brought forward the reopening of cinemas, theatres, concert halls and cultural institutions by one week, to May 21.

Indoor dining, indoor sports facilities and swimming pools can reopen with capacity restrictions on May 28.


Qatar decided on May 9 to gradually lift measures in four phases, starting on May 28 and ending on July 30.


On May 17, Saudi Arabia opened land, sea and air borders. From May 20, foreign visitors arriving by air from most countries no longer need to quarantine if they have been vaccinated.


Curfews were lifted across most of Spain on May 9. Since then, responsibility for emergency measures lies with individual regions.

Spain will from May 24 allow people from low-risk non-EU countries to enter without a negative PCR test. All non-EU travellers who have been vaccinated will be allowed in from June 7.


Turkey started easing its lockdown on May 17 by allowing movement during the day while keeping overnight and weekend curfews in place until June 1.


On May 3, New York City dwellers were allowed to have a drink at an indoor bar for the first time in months, days after Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city should reopen in full on July 1.

Its subway system, which had been closing from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. for disinfecting stations and cars, resumed 24-hour service on May 17.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis on May 3 signed an executive order to end all local emergency orders.

The states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut lifted most capacity restrictions on businesses, including retail stores, food services and gyms, on May 19.

California will fully reopen its economy on June 15 if hospitalisations are low and stable, and vaccine supplies are enough for everyone over the age of 16.

Virginia plans to lift all restrictions on June 15, except for a mask mandate. Minnesota plans to remove all limits by July 1, or sooner if 70% of the state’s residents over 16 get vaccinated.

Main Photo: Shoppers wearing face masks pass a Covid-19 awareness signs in Oxford Street in London, Britain. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

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