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Israel may allow vaccinated tourists in from November 1 — though US in question

A number of countries may be initially excluded from potential framework for non-group travelers, due to absence of deals to recognize vaccination certificates

Travelers are seen at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on September 20, 2021. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Travelers are seen at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on September 20, 2021. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel may start allowing individual vaccinated tourists into the country at the beginning of November. The potential plan could exclude Americans, Canadians and Brits at first due to a lack of agreement on recognizing their vaccine certificates.

The vast majority of tourists have effectively been banned from entering Israel since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March of last year. Under current regulations, tourists only began arriving in organized groups in May, though in a very limited capacity. Additionally, first-degree relatives of Israeli citizens or residents can apply for permits to travel to the country.

According to reports from Hebrew-language media, including Kan news and the Globes financial daily, the first phase of allowing in individual tourists starting November 1 will permit travelers from the approximately 40 countries with which Israel has a reciprocal agreement to recognize vaccination certificates.

Israel does not yet have agreements to recognize the vaccines of the vast majority of countries, including the US, UK and Canada, potentially stymieing the entry of tourists from those countries.

The reports said foreign tourists would need to have received either a second or third dose of vaccine within the past six months, in line with the requirements for being considered fully vaccinated in Israel. Many countries have not implemented a booster program yet, potentially complicating the situation for foreign tourists.

Globes reported that it was hoped that tourists vaccinated in New York and California would be permitted to enter in the near future. The report did not clarify why those two states were singled out or how the rule could be enforced.

A woman receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Clalit health care center in Jerusalem, October 3, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Globes said that vaccines recognized by the World Health Organization would be accepted by Israeli authorities, meaning that Chinese inoculations (used in many countries, including the UAE) would be permitted, but Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine would not.

The report said vaccinated tourists from all over the world may be able to enter Israel starting November 21.

Additionally, the Tourism Ministry was said to be drawing up plans for vaccinated tour groups to enter Israel even if they do not meet the requirements for latest dose date. Under that framework, some 1,000 travelers would be permitted to enter Israel per day, but would need to take rapid antigen tests at the entrance to tourism sites.

At any rate, all travelers to Israel must take a PCR test within 72 hours of their departure and must take a second test when they land at Ben Gurion Airport. Vaccinated travelers must remain in quarantine either for 24 hours or until they receive a negative test result. Those who aren’t vaccinated must remain in quarantine for 14 days, which can be shortened to seven days with two negative tests, on days 1 and 7.

Medical technicians test passengers for COVID-19 at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)

The Health Ministry would not comment specifically on the reports. “As soon as the outline is confirmed and approved, we will publish it in an orderly manner,” an official said.

The Tourism Ministry also said that the plan had not yet been finalized, including the details of which countries would be on the approved list.

Last month Israel and the European Union reached an agreement to mutually recognize vaccine certificates, the Foreign Ministry announced at the time.

The ministry said the agreement would give vaccinated Israeli tourists and business people access to the EU Green Pass, allowing entrance to European “restaurants, cultural centers, public institutions and more.”

It would also allow Israel to gear up to begin accepting tourists from Europe, the statement said. Furthermore, it will allow Israelis access to other countries’ programs, should they join the initiative in the future.

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