Originally one of the strictest countries when it came to entry restrictions during Covid, Israel is now taking a courageous step and scrapping the vaccination requirement for foreign visitors. This means that, starting March 1 all foreigners will be welcome regardless of vaccination status, including unvaccinated Americans and Canadians.
Having been completely off-limits for nearly two years, the popular Middle Eastern destination is once again hoping to attract tourists, as its pandemic-era lockdowns and social curbs, which were among the harshest in the world, become more distant memories. Although vaccination will no longer be relevant, there are still other rules in place.
Vaccination No Longer A Prerequisite For Travel To Israel
In a move that came as a surprise to the travel community, the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, alongside Health Minister and advisor Nitzan Horowitz, announced on February 20 new plans to ease entry rules at the borders. Amid those plans are the revised guidelines concerning the need for vaccination certificates as travel documentation.
Once the updated measures come into force on March 1, both vaccinated and unvaccinated foreigners will be allowed to visit Israel. However, unlike other tourist destinations such as Norway and the Dominican Republic, which have recently abolished all Covid restrictions, Israel is taking a more balanced approach.
In spite of removing the entry ban on non-immunized individuals, it will still require all tourists to submit a negative PCR test before boarding their flight. On top of that, foreign nationals will also need to take another PCR post-arrival. Though more precise details are yet to be outlined, it has been confirmed Israeli citizens are exempt from the pre-flight test.
A major step towards a full reopening, the dropping of the vaccine restriction seems to have been recommended by the Health Ministry, as the Omicron wave continues to wane and the epidemiological scenario improves. As Bennett himself stated, the country is seeing a “constant decline in morbidity data”, meaning “it is time to gradually open up“.
The Prime Minister’s comments offer hope to those still expecting to visit a restriction-free Israel, especially following the WHO – World Health Organization‘s own recommendation that countries start relaxing strict testing regimes known to place financial burdens on travelers. Irrespective of WHO advice, it seems Israel is keeping testing in place, at least for the moment.
Rules Could Change Again If Health Scenario Deteriorates
According to Bennett, the government’s indicators must be “in sync” with the situation on the ground” in order to maintain the public’s trust. Despite the Prime Minister’s reassuring words, he reaffirmed they will keep monitoring the situation closely and, should a new variant arise, they will “again act quickly”, which could mean restrictions could return at very short notice should the health situation deteriorate.
Still, recent news will certainly be welcomed by American tourists who have had to postpone their long-awaited dream trip to the Promised Land for months, as Israel continued to ban entry for non-Israeli nationals throughout most of 2021. That has all now changed, with U.S. citizens again encouraged to visit.
What Is The Covid Situation In Israel?
On Sunday, there were 10,354 new coronavirus cases reported in the country, the lowest since January 2 and a clear indication the Omicron variant might have been beaten. When it comes to seriously ill patients, 575 individuals developed serious symptoms over the last seven days, representing a 36% decrease compared to the week before.
On the immunization front, Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with around 99.3% of the population having received a full course of vaccination. Coupled with easier entry requirements and a more relaxed pandemic approach, it now looks set to become one of the easiest Middle Eastern nations for Americans to visit.
What Are The Rules For Foreigners Traveling To Israel Right Now?
For the moment, only vaccinated foreigners or those with a certificate of recovery are allowed to visit Israel for non-essential purposes. They are required to upload their certificate to Israel’s pre-departure registration form in order to obtain the so-called “Green Pass” to travel, besides taking either a PCR test or rapid antigen within 72 and 24 hours of traveling, respectively.
Additionally, under current rules, all international arrivals must observe a 24-hour isolation period, which can be shortened with a negative PCR test. If flying to Israel with a recovery certificate, travelers are still required to submit their documentation through the Ministry of Health’s web system so it can be digitally verified.
Come March 1, tourists will no longer be expected to satisfy Israeli border authorities with proof of vaccination, though they will still be denied boarding when failing to produce a negative PCR. Unless there are new announcements down the line, post-arrival testing will also be maintained. In that case, it is likely travelers will still be required to isolate until they receive their negative results.
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your next trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
↓ Join the community ↓
The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest reopening news, conversations, and Q&A’s happening daily!
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR LATEST POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path’s latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox
Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories