The Tourism Ministry announced the framework of a pilot program that will begin on September 19th. Under this special program, groups of foreign vaccination tourists coming from selected countries would be permitted to enter the country again. The tourists will have to provide proof of a second vaccination in the last six months of recognition by the Israeli Health Ministry, or proof of third vaccination, in order to qualify. Upon landing, the visitors will also need to take a serological test for proving the existence of antibodies in their blood. The groups of tourists coming from the ‘orange’ or ‘yellow’ countries, as per the classification of the Health Ministry, would be allowed to enter the country.
The ministry said that it was expecting to receive applications after Rosh Hashanah, later this week. Israel has kept its borders closed for foreign nationals for the last year and half and has made only a few limited exceptions. When the pandemic began abating in spring, the country had permitted vaccinated tourist groups in limited numbers to enter the country at the beginning of June and had prepared to do so in July as well. However, they postponed the plan when the coronavirus cases began to climb again and it is now on hold indefinitely.
The Health Ministry had introduced a seven-day mandatory quarantine in the beginning of August for inbound travelers from nearly all countries in the world, including Canada, the US and for most parts of Europe. Group trips had also ceased. As of now, Israel does not recognize any foreign recovery documentation or vaccination. Non-citizens who want to come into the country require special permission for entering and they have to present their certificates for this purpose. Once they are in Israel, they have to undergo a serological test for proving that antibodies exist in their blood for them to be considered immunized.
Currently, both PCR tests, as well as rapid serological tests, have been made available at the Ben-Gurion Airport, and these are mandatory for all inbound travelers. The test costs NIS 127 and gives results in 20 minutes. Birthright Israel announced on Friday that it will resume trips beginning in October. The organization is responsible for sponsoring educational trips for Jewish youth all across the world. New regulations were also put into effect on Friday that eliminates the need for quarantine.
As per these rules, people who have had their second shot, gotten their third shot a week before, recovered from COVID in the last six months, or have gotten a single dose after recovery will be regarded as protected. Therefore, they will have to take a PCR test upon arrival and only isolate until the result, or a maximum of 24 hours. This is not applicable if they are coming from a red country. According to some officials of the Health Ministry, this doesn’t apply to individual recovered or vaccinated abroad, even if they get all Israeli documentation after taking a serological test. These include relatives of citizens who have received permission for visiting their loved ones.