Israel plans reopening for vaccinated tourists in July
Israel is planning a pilot project to allow individual foreign tourists into the country starting July 1, if they are vaccinated against Covid-19. Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri wrote yesterday to Population and Immigration Authority director general Shlomo Mor-Yosef informing him of the plan, Trend reports with reference to Globes.
In the letter, Deri said that due to the improved situation in Israel regarding Covid infections and air travel and the improving situation in vaccination take-up and infections in many other countries, "There is room to expand the relaxations on letting foreigners into Israel and changing the existing method of approvals, which is imposing the biggest of burdens on Israeli representatives abroad and on the Population and Immigration Authority in Israel."
Deri said that he had consulted with the Minister of Health, Minister of Foreign Affairs and other professional staff on the matter and had, "Decided to allow vaccinated people, from countries which will be defined by the Ministry of Health, to enter Israel, through a shortened process which is currently being formulated."
Israel shut its borders to non-Israeli passport holders in early March 2020 with a few special exceptions for diplomats, students, businesspeople and compassionate family visits. On May 23, in a pilot project the border was reopened for tourists in organized groups. Dozens of such groups have since entered Israel with all tourists required to have had two vaccinations, arrive with a negative Covid test and take a serology test on arrival to prove that they have developed Covid antibodies.
Deri's decision could potentially be overturned by the incoming Minister of Interior but Israel Tourism and Travel Agents association head Yossi Patel urges the new government to push ahead with the relaxations with tens of millions of dollars worth of booking in the balance. Patel also calls for the cancelation of the serology tests, which he describes as a "unique ceremony for the State of Israel."