Israel announced yesterday that it is ready to welcome back groups of foreign tourists. The Israeli Health Ministry says that Israel will open up to vaccinated visitors starting May 23, 2021. Any tourist wishing to visit Israel must have received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine.
Before traveling to Israel, visitors will have to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test. On arrival, they will need to take a serological test before leaving Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) to prove their vaccination status. A serology test is a blood test that can detect if a person has antibodies when the body is responding to a specific infection, like COVID-19.
Only groups will be allowed at first
Tourists will only be able to enter Israel as a part of an organized group, and limits will be placed on the number of people allowed in per day. These numbers will gradually be increased depending on the country’s coronavirus situation and will be relaxed to enable individual tourists after a while.
This will be the first time since March of last year, when Israel first imposed travel restrictions, that non-residents will be allowed in the country. American online magazine ISRAEL21c quotes Israel Health Minister Yuli Edelstein as saying:
“Israel is the first vaccinated state, and the citizens of Israel are the first to enjoy it.” adding, “After we have opened up the economy, it is time to carefully and thoughtfully facilitate tourism.
“The opening of tourism is an important line for one of the industries that were particularly damaged in the year of coronavirus. We will continue to examine the relief at all times in accordance with the morbidity data.”
Israel has done a good job vaccinating
The decision to allow foreign tourists comes after rates of the coronavirus in Israel continue to plummet due to one of the world’s most successful vaccination programs. So far, 62% of Israel’s population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Shops and restaurants have reopened for business, and from next week all schools will be fully open. Starting April 20, Israelis will no longer be required to wear a mask while outdoors.
Israel could be on the UK green list
Interestingly May 23 comes just days after United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to announce the UK’s three-tier traffic light system for British holidaymakers. Countries listed as being in the green tier will not require people to self-isolates when they return home. If Israel is in the green tier as is expected due to the county’s coronavirus response, it could make the Red Sea resort of Eilat very popular with British tourists.
For a country to be placed on the green list, it will need to have a competent vaccination program that has already administered the COVID-19 vaccine to many of its population. It will also have to show declining rates of COVID-19 infections and have none of the fast-spreading variants that governments worldwide want to keep at bay.
Other counties expected to be on the green list include the United States, Iceland, Portugal, Malta, Bahrain, UAE, and the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.
While Israel may be attractive to British tourists, I think we will see many people visiting the Holy Land from the United Arab Emirates and Morocco following the normalization of relations between the two Arab countries and the Jewish state.
What do you think of Israel’s plan to welcome back visitors? Please tell us what you think in the comments.