Israel to ease restrictions on foreign tourists next week

Passengers packed into Ben Gurion airport Photo: Michal Raz-Chaimovitz

No precise plans have been finalized but all tourists who are vaccinated from a list of about 45 countries are expected to be allowed into Israel from July 1.

On June 30, the pilot program initiated in May, which has been allowing a limited number of organized tours of foreign tourists to enter Israel, will end. The assumption is that the pilot will be expanded from July 1 to include more groups as well as individuals who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

While outgoing Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri approved such an expanded plan to include individual tourists before leaving office last week, an official detailed plan has yet to be approved. However, incoming Minister of Interior Ayelet Shaked has reaffirmed that foreign tourists will be allowed in from July 1, subject to certain restrictions, including having been vaccinated.

Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association head Yossi Fatael has outlined how such a plan is likely to look, beginning July 1. Incoming Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid) is also eager to push ahead on the matter. He said, "I see my first task in the job as building the proper and efficient relaxations on conditions for tourists to enter Israel."

When asked by "Globes" the Ministry of Health said that no conditions for allowing individual foreign tourists into Israel have yet been finalized but the issue is being worked on.

According to Fatael all tourists, groups and individuals, from a list of about 45 countries that have had two doses of a vaccine approved in either the US or EU, will be allowed into Israel. No tourists from red countries, currently India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, Ethiopia, South Africa and Turkey but updated every two weeks, will be allowed into Israel, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

Foreign tourists coming into Israel will be subject to the same requirements as Israelis. Filling in an on-line health declaration before arriving in Israel and a negative PCR test from less than 72 hours before departing for Israel. An additional test for NIS 100 must be taken on landing at Ben Gurion airport.

But in all likelihood, the current need for tourists to take a serological test and remain in isolation for two days, until the results prove that they have the required number of Covid antibodies, will be cancelled. This requirement has deterred many tourists because of the 48 hour isolation, the idea of giving blood in a foreign country, and the possibility that they might fail the test and be unable to tour the country.

However, tourists who have recovered from Covid but not been vaccinated will be required to take the serology test. But this test will be administered at the airport, with results received after 15 minutes. Tourists will have to pay for this test but no price has yet been set.

The land border to Egypt via Sinai is already open and the border with Jordan will reopen on July 1, but it remaions unclear whether foreign tourists will be allowed in through the land borders.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 20, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

Passengers packed into Ben Gurion airport Photo: Michal Raz-Chaimovitz
Passengers packed into Ben Gurion airport Photo: Michal Raz-Chaimovitz
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