Tourism Ministry working to allow visitors into Israel from November

Israeli borders have been closed to foreign nationals for a year and a half, with very limited exceptions.

Israelis at Ben-Gurion Airport as coronavirus cases increase, August 5, 2021. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Israelis at Ben-Gurion Airport as coronavirus cases increase, August 5, 2021.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)

The Tourism Ministry is working on a plan to allow vaccinated tourists into Israel starting from November, The Jerusalem Post confirmed Monday.

A spokesperson said that the proposed outline is currently being examined by the Health Ministry.

The goal is to allow foreign nationals who are inoculated with a vaccine recognized by the ministry, and who hold their country’s green pass, to visit Israel.

In April, as coronavirus data became increasingly encouraging and Israel was celebrating the success of its vaccination campaign, the Tourism Ministry presented a plan to reopen the country’s borders to foreign visitors after over a year.

 Travelers at the Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, September 6, 2021.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Travelers at the Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, September 6, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

At the end of May, the first groups of vaccinated tourists landed. Individual travelers were supposed to follow on July 1. But as a new outbreak began in the country, the plan was postponed to August 1, and then indefinitely put on hold.

Three months later, as the wave is slowing down, and the country celebrates the success of its booster campaign, one cannot help feeling a sense of deja-vu. Will individual visitors finally be allowed in?

There are some reasons to be optimistic.

Israel so far has been very hesitant to recognize any foreign vaccination certificate.

For this reason, the outline to allow tourists proposed in the spring required visitors to undergo a rapid serological test at the airport upon arrival together with a PCR test.

While at the time, no structure provided the rapid serological tests, now the testing complex at Ben-Gurion offers them.

In addition, last month Israel reached a deal to join the European Union’s digital COVID certificate program. It is set to take effect in October and entails the mutual recognition of documentation.

In order to be considered vaccinated, foreign visitors will need to meet the same requirements as Israelis (a second shot administered not earlier than six months before, or a booster).

The plan to reopen to tourists was discussed during the coronavirus cabinet meeting on Sunday, although no decision was finalized.

A spokesperson for Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said that he is giving the issue the highest priority and is committed to reopening the skies as soon as possible.