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Israel to relaunch tourism for vaccinated groups from select countries

Israelis and vaccinated tourists wearing masks for COVID-19 protection arrive to Israel's Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on May 23, 2021, after a partial re-opening of the border to inoculated tourists from 14 countries. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Ilustrative: Israelis and vaccinated tourists wearing masks for COVID-19 protection arrive to Israel's Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on May 23, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Israel says it will relaunch a pilot program granting entry to tourist groups from select countries, as the daily coronavirus caseload dips ahead of the Jewish High Holidays.

A Tourism Ministry statement says the program applying to groups of 5 to 30 tourists will restart on September 19.

But visitors from countries labeled “red” by Israel based on the rate of viral transmission will still be barred.

The program, launched in May, was halted on August 11 “due to new regulations and restrictions from the health ministry in line with the rising morbidity rates at the time,” a Tourism Ministry spokeswoman tells AFP.

The first part of the pilot program saw over 2,000 tourists enter the country.

The ministry says that “not one corona[virus] case was identified among the groups.”

Incoming tourists in the renewed program must be fully vaccinated with a recent negative COVID test and undergo antibody testing upon arrival in order to skip quarantine, the ministry says.

September 19 is a day before the beginning of Sukkot, a weeklong holiday which normally draws many Jewish tourists to Israel.

The High Holiday season begins at sundown tomorrow, with the start of Jewish New Year.

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