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I am tasked with arranging an informal meeting of two EU citizens. It can happen in the EU or somewhere near (maybe even Arab countries). I will have to arrange the hotels and hopefully some public dining.

Which country has the least covid related restrictions (e.g. quarantines, closed hotels/restaurants)?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

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  • 2
    Where are the two participants located?
    – Traveller
    Mar 24 at 17:32
  • 1
    Are you open to flying to Mexico? Cancun is probably the best destination right now if you want to experience life as it was in 2019. Russia would be your second best pick but they're not open to citizens of any EU countries right now. The US is also wide open in southern states but there's a travel ban in place.
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 24 at 19:41
  • @Traveller the participants are located in Malta and Slovenia. Mar 25 at 9:58
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    I suggest you tell them about Jitsi/Zoom/Skype/Whereby/Webex/…
    – gerrit
    Mar 25 at 10:08
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+500

One easy way to figure out the true state of lockdowns is to look at mobility ratings. People stop traveling around when restrictions are high and go back to normal lives when restrictions are low. Using data from Google Mobility we can calculate the mobility rating of European, North African and Middle Eastern countries, on a 7-day rolling average. We'll use the "Retail & recreation" category which is probably the most relevant for tourism. It is summarized by Google as:

Mobility trends for places like restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, theme parks, museums, libraries, and movie theaters.

Your best bets given travel restrictions are therefore:

  1. UAE - entry allowed into Dubai with just a PCR test and everything in the country seems to be open.
  2. Egypt - same as UAE
  3. Bahrain - travel is open and restaurants have limited seating available
  4. Croatia - restaurants are open outdoors and many other activities are available.
  5. Sweden - restaurants are open but limited to 4 persons per table

Countries which have a lot of mobility but are probably a bad option:

  1. Israel - impossible to enter unless you're a resident
  2. Russia - same as Israel
  3. Qatar - same as Israel
  4. Turkey - restaurants are closed
  5. Denmark - restaurants are closed

Anything lower than Croatia on the mobility ranking will likely have strong lockdowns in practice, making your trip unpleasant. Finally, remember that it would be best to avoid travel until you're fully vaccinated, unless both of you already recovered from COVID. We're in the final stretch of the pandemic and it would be quite foolish to get infected so close to the end.

Country Travel mobility
Qatar -7
Egypt -10
United Arab Emirates -11
Israel -13
Bahrain -15
Russia -15
Morocco -16
Denmark -20
Sweden -21
Bosnia and Herzegovina -21
Ukraine -21
Belarus -22
Croatia -23
Georgia -25
Oman -26
Lebanon -26
Norway -26
North Macedonia -28
Moldova -28
Romania -29
Jordan -30
Poland -30
Latvia -31
Turkey -31
Spain -32
Bulgaria -32
Finland -35
Belgium -37
Switzerland -38
Germany -39
Netherlands -39
Slovenia -39
Luxembourg -40
France -42
Lithuania -42
Serbia -42
Ireland -44
Estonia -46
Hungary -46
Malta -46
Austria -47
Portugal -47
Italy -50
Slovakia -51
United Kingdom -51
Liechtenstein -54
Czechia -55
Greece -59
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    +1 to UAE: they also have a strong vaccination program, with some 35% already covered as I type, higher than anywhere in Europe. #2 on the list, Egypt, has barely started vaccinations. Mar 25 at 5:50
  • @lambshaanxy supposedly some tourists were even able to get vaccinated in the UAE, so you could try your luck too
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 25 at 7:30
  • One limitation is that mobility ratings ignore quarantines, e.g. Qatar has a quarantine, so not great to go there for a meeting. Mar 25 at 8:32
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    @FranckDernoncourt yes, Qatar doesn't allow tourists in. But Dubai and Egypt definitely do.
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 25 at 8:59
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    @JonathanReez yes +1 for dubai, in fact a friend of mine is in the same situation as the OP and they decided to meet in Dubai. I had missed the mention of Arab countries in the question :) Mar 25 at 9:00
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https://reopen.europa.eu/en lists covid related restrictions such as quarantines and closed hotels/restaurants for each EU country, you can look at it to decide which location fits best your needs. The restrictions change quite often, e.g. see Third Covid wave hits Europe: Lockdowns imposed (2021-03-22). Also some restrictions are specific to some regions of a given country (example).

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