Fully vaccinated tourists from select countries will be permitted to enter Israel starting Jan. 9, according to Israel’s Ministry of Health.
This does not include the United States and United Kingdom which remain on the Health Ministry’s “red” no-fly list. Also banned, still, are foreign travelers who are not vaccinated against or recovered from COVID.
The Health Ministry has recommended removing Canada, France, South Africa, Hungary, Nigeria, Spain and Portugal from Israel’s no-fly list, a move still subject to approval.
It is not clear when travel restrictions on the remaining countries will be removed.
Israel reopened its borders to tourists in early November – the first opening since the pandemic struck – but it was short-lived and with many regulations. In the same month, Israel closed its borders to foreign travelers once again in an attempt to curb the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
There was no clear information provided about the policy surrounding approved vaccination certificates this time around. In November, certificates showing injections by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Sinovac or Sinopharm (China) were all considered acceptable by authorities. Those vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V, however, were required to undergo a serology test to ensure they were protected.
The Israeli government decided to allow tourists back into the country despite the increasing number of daily COVID cases across the nation. While the Omicron variant is more contagious than previous ones, it is proving to be a milder strain. Salman Zarka, Israel’s coronavirus czar, recently said that the current COVID outbreak in Israel renders the government’s decision to limit incoming travel from countries with high Omicron infections as “professionally illogical.”
Israel has maintained a relatively low number of serious COVID cases with 110 patients hospitalized in serious condition, according to a report on Sunday. Since Dec. 21, there have been four COVID-related deaths in the country, bringing Israel’s overall death toll to 8,244.
As Israel prepares to welcome some tourists next week, the Health Ministry also recommended relaxing the rules for vaccinated and recovered Israeli travelers returning from “orange” countries. Returning Israelis will only have to stay in quarantine until receiving a negative result from their mandatory PCR test upon landing rather than a full three days.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.