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UK, Israel consider establishing a 'green' travel corridor for vaccinated citizens

British minister visited Jerusalem this week to discuss travel

PM Benjamin Netanyahu meets with UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, April 20, 2021 (Photo: Koby Gideon/GPO)

The Israeli Foreign Ministry announced this week that the United Kingdom and Israel are considering establishing a “green” travel corridor with mutual vaccination recognition.

Both Israel and Great Britain have had swift and successful vaccination campaigns compared to most advanced economies in the world. The intention to establish close vaccination cooperation coincided with British Cabinet Minister Michael Gove’s visit to Israel this week.

Gove, responsible for coordinating the British government’s response to the pandemic, was hosted in Jerusalem by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. 

“The fight against the coronavirus pandemic is a challenge the entire world is contending with. After the medical challenge, ways need to be found to get the economy back on course as quickly as possible,” Ashkenazi said. “We’ll promote, together with Britain, mutual recognition of vaccinations to allow tourists and businesspeople from the two countries to return to routine safely.”

It remains unclear when the potential travel exchange would be implemented and whether it would only be open to fully-vaccinated British and Israeli citizens. 

Gove recently praised Israel’s “green passport” program and believes it should be a role model for Great Britain’s own effort to eventually return to something that resembles [pre-COVID] normal life. 

"In Israel, which is one of the few countries to have vaccinated a higher percentage of the population than we have in the UK, they have been using a 'green pass' to get back to normal more quickly. This green pass system allows citizens who've been vaccinated, recently recovered from the virus or who've had a recent negative test, to congregate in venues which had been closed for months such as theatres and night clubs,” Gove said.

One of the main reasons for Gove’s visit to Israel this week was to study Israel’s “green” passport program in action. In March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrated Israel’s vaccination passport program to the visiting Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. 

The Jewish state recently signed travel agreements with Greece, Georgia and Cyprus. The establishment of travel corridors have allowed thousands of Israelis to once again enjoy these popular tourist destinations. 

Israel recently announced it intends to reopen its skies to foreign tourists on May 23. However, there are still hurdles ahead. Due to bureaucracy and fear of virus variants, Israel has some of the strictest entry requirements found anywhere in the world.

Like Israel, countries such as Estonia and Iceland require that all foreign visitors be fully vaccinated. However, the Israeli government also demands a serological test for all visitors as proof that the individual has antibodies against the coronavirus.

In addition, skepticism shown by Israeli authorities toward non-Pfizer vaccines could also undermine a full reopening of Israel’s skies to countries using vaccines other than Pfizer. 

Meanwhile, Israel is reportedly in an advanced stage of negotiations to establish travel corridors with Italy and Spain, according to the Jerusalem Post. Following Israel’s successful vaccination rollout, Israel is increasingly seen as a safe travel destination. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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