As the world slowly adjusts to a new normal, various governments around the globe have been carefully monitoring how to lift restrictions and bring their people out of lockdown. Several countries are starting to ease their strict measures to allow citizens to enjoy the things they used to, like going to cafes, playing tennis, and returning to beaches.
Amid growing social and economic pressures to reopen, many nations will be eyeing the exit routes of Greece, Iceland, and New Zealand, amongst others, to see what lessons can be learned as these countries feel their way out of lockdown.
The popular Mediterranean tourist destination is at the forefront of a cautious reopening. The country is heavily dependent on tourism, which generates a fifth of its economic revenue. Coinciding with the first heatwave of the season, the recent reopening of more than 500 beaches saw Greeks flocking to the seaside.
Sun bathers were required to heed social distancing measures. According to government rules, no more than 40 people were allowed per 1,000 square meters (10,750 sq ft), while umbrellas had to be four meters (13 ft) apart. Many beaches enforced these rules with drones equipped with loudspeakers.
Following the reopening of beaches, Greek citizens will soon be allowed to attend Church Mass, visit archaeological sites like the Acropolis, and travel across the mainland and to popular islands like Crete and Santorini.
There’s great news for foreign travellers as well. Tourism officials say they hope to welcome back foreign visitors sometime in July.
If July is too long for you to wait to get your travel fix, then Iceland may be the country for you.
In mid-May the tiny island nation in the North Atlantic announced plans to reopen its borders by June 15th. Travellers from around the world will be welcomed in but will be subject to testing measures or may be required to go into quarantine. According to Iceland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the exact timing of reopening “depends on when all the practicalities will be in place.”
To prevent a spike in cases, travellers will be required to download the tracing app, Rakning C-19. Around 40 percent of the country’s 364,000 citizens have already downloaded the app. The Icelandic Tourism Board expects that visitors will be able to move around the country freely and without extensive restrictions as long as they are responsible when enjoying the island’s stunning and abundant nature.
Last week, after consecutive days with no new coronavirus cases reported, New Zealand allowed most businesses to reopen. Many around the world have heaped praise on the island nation of 5 million, and especially on its Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, for winning the battle against widespread Covid-19 transmission.
According to Prime Minister Arden, “We went hard and we went early. We got control of the virus, and now we're in a position where we can safely step out of those controls and open our economy back up." Most businesses including those in malls, hairdressers, and restaurants are reopening as long as they can do it safely. Sadly, drinkers will have to wait a tad bit longer: Bars don’t reopen until May 21.
While there are no plans yet to open up New Zealand to unrestricted foreign tourism, its government, along with neighbouring Australia, wish to resume travel between the two countries by July.
Over the coming months, as countries around the world slowly and cautiously open for business and allow tourism to resume, we'll be bringing you updates on potential travel opportunities. Until that next trip, keep checking Launchtrip+ for new virtual events in music, sports, culture and more.