Individual Tourists to be Allowed into Israel Starting July 1
Starting from July 1, vaccinated individual tourists will be allowed to visit Israel, Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen announced on Thursday night after Interior Minister Aryeh Deri issued a communication on the topic.
“I am happy that the hard work of the Tourism Ministry staff, along with the Health Ministry, Foreign Affairs, and the Interior Ministry, led the Interior Minister to relax the requirement for vaccinated tourists and allow individual tourists to enter starting July 1,” Farkash-Hacohen tweeted. “Israel’s status as a vaccine-equipped country should be used to the benefit of the country’s economy as it opens up to tourism.”
In a letter from the Interior Ministry, it was stated that “Senior health officials, the Foreign Minister, and professional members of various ministries cooperated in a decision to allow vaccinated people coming from selected countries to enter Israel under a shortened procedure to be announced shortly.”
The spokesperson to the tourism minister told the Post that the decision would not need to be approved by the government and that the number of visitors would not be restricted to a specific number.
Travellers who are vaccinated – and not those who have recovered – will be allowed in. Before boarding the plane, they will have to present their vaccination certificate and PCR test results.
According to the spokesperson, the questions of which vaccines will be accepted and whether or not tourists will have to undergo serological testing to demonstrate antibodies in their blood to avoid quarantine – as it is now required for anyone who has been vaccinated abroad – remain under discussion.
Nevertheless, a Health Ministry official told reporters that the statement was somewhat premature and related to the imminent change in government.
While it is true that relevant officials are working towards this direction, Farkash-Hacohen’s announcement was rushed.
“Many details still need to be worked out and obviously the new government will have an impact on what is decided,” he said.
Health officials are working to determine which criteria – such as level of morbidity – to evaluate each country and determine whether its residents will be allowed in. He also confirmed that July 1 is the goal.
Israeli borders have been closed to foreign nationals for over a year, with limited exceptions tourist groups were supposed to be allowed in, followed by general permission to travel to Israel in groups. Moreover, according to the plan, individual travellers were supposed to be admitted to the country from July 1, but the plan required further details to be approved.
The escalation with Gaza slightly delayed the plan’s rollout, but the first group of visitors – Christian pilgrims from the United States – arrived on May 27.
However, the decision on whether to open up the country to all groups and then to individual tourists kept on being postponed. Health officials have repeatedly stressed that while in light of the low morbidity their goal was to cancel all coronavirus regulation within the country, maintaining tight border restrictions to avoid the risk of infected people entering Israel was very important.
On Monday, a spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry said that the pilot program to allow a limited number of tourists travelling in groups into Israel was extended until the end of June and up to 1,000 travellers could enter the country, while a decision for individual travellers would be made later in the month.
Besides the limited number of visitors travelling in groups and Jewish youth participating in special education programs in Israel – such as Birthright trips and Masa programs, also foreign nationals who have a first degree relative in Israel can enter the country.
However, the procedure to receive permission to travel is quite complicated and involves sending the local Israeli consulate or the Interior Ministry several documents including copies of IDs of both the traveller and the Israeli relative, an official document proving their relations – such as a birth certificate for parents and children – the vaccination certificate, plane tickets, travel insurance covering COVID and details of the place where they are going to spend their quarantine until the results of the serological test arrive.
For many who wish to travel to Israel – as well as for those who work in the tourist industry – is that the requirements are going to be far less burdensome, as the skies further open up.