After 20 long months of waiting to revv up its tourist influx, Israel on Monday opened its borders to fully vaccinated tourists and those who recovered from the disease.
The Tourism Ministry welcomed Monday’s reopening, saying that “throughout the global corona pandemic, interest in visiting Israel has remained high and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism has worked hard to find creative solutions to facilitate the safe return of tourists.”
The ministry said that in recent months it had put in place a trial program with “several thousand tourists, primarily from the USA and Europe, visiting Israel’s religious, historical, cultural and natural sites within a safe and tourist-friendly environment.”
But as it stands, not all tourists will immediately be eligible to visit Israel, and those that do come will face restrictions. Only tourists from countries that aren’t defined as “red” due to high infection rates will be allowed in, although currently there are no countries labelled as such.
According to the rules, tourists who have been vaccinated during the 180 days before they boarded the plane will be allowed to enter Israel. In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, seven days must elapse between the traveler’s second or third shot and entry to Israel. In the case of Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (one dose, not two), Sinovac and Sinopharm, 14 days must elapse. Starting in the middle of next month, Israel will allow entry to visitors inoculated with Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, in a policy shift for the country, which until now has only recognized immunizations approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Under both the current and the new regulations, all travelers to Israel must take a PCR test within 72 hours of their departure and must take a second test when they land at Ben Gurion Airport. Vaccinated travelers must remain in quarantine either for 24 hours or until they receive a negative test result. Those who aren’t vaccinated must remain in quarantine for 14 days, which can be shortened to seven days with two negative tests, on days 1 and 7.