A government plan to reopen the border crossing with Egypt will reportedly allow Israelis to visit the Sinai Peninsula during next week’s Passover festival and possibly even sooner.
The Taba crossing has been shuttered since the coronavirus pandemic began, apart from brief occasions in which Israelis were permitted to return.
The tourism, interior and health ministries have agreed on two possible dates for reopening the crossing, Channel 12 reported Monday, without citing a source. Egyptian authorities were also reportedly part of the talks.
One possible date was Thursday, March 25 — as demanded by the Blue and White party — and the other is the Health Ministry’s preferred date of next Monday, March 29. The network said the ministry was hoping the delay would allow more time to approve rules limiting such travel to those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
The new reported rules will let up to 320 people return to Israel every day.
Travelers will have to register online and take a PCR test up to 72 hours before the trip, and another upon return. Capacity at the crossing will be limited to 50 percent of the usual traffic and no private vehicles will be allowed to cross.
The report came days after Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said the government had decided to reopen the Taba crossing, allowing Israelis to vacation in the Sinai Peninsula. She didn’t specify when the crossing would reopen and said the rules for passing through will be similar to the regulations at Ben Gurion Airport, without elaborating.
Earlier this month, the government approved Farkash-Hacohen’s proposal to form a ministerial committee for formulating a plan to let a limited number of Israelis travel to and from Sinai via the Taba crossing.
On Sunday, entry restrictions were eased at Ben Gurion Airport, after the High Court of Justice ruled a government-imposed cap of 3,000 returning citizens per day disproportionately violated civil rights due to its sweeping and extended nature, as well as the proximity to the March 23 elections.
Israel’s land and air gateways had been largely closed since January 25, leaving thousands unable to return, in an effort to prevent the potential arrival of coronavirus variants.