COVID: Tourist groups were allowed in Israel for 2 weeks, no isolation | MCUTimes

COVID: Tourist groups were allowed in Israel for 2 weeks, no isolation

Foreign groups of vaccinated tourists from selected countries will be allowed in Israel again from September 19 as part of a special pilot program, the Ministry of Tourism said Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

To qualify, tourists must provide proof of another vaccination recognized by the Israeli Ministry of Health, received within the last six months, or for a third vaccination.

When they land, visitors must perform a serological test to prove the presence of antibodies in their blood.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men travel to Uman for the Rosh Hashanah Jewish holiday at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on September 1, 2021. (Credit: YOSSI ZELIGER / FLASH90)

Only tourists coming from countries classified as “yellow” or “orange” by the Ministry of Health can be part of the groups. Currently, these include all nations of the world except Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico and Turkey, which are classified as “red”.

The ministry said travel agents and tour operators could submit requests for groups of five to 30 tourists, as was the case before the program was temporarily halted due to increased morbidity in Israel and around the world due to the corona delta variant.

The program does not limit the total number of foreign tourist groups allowed in the country.

The ministry said it expects applications to begin arriving later the following week Rosh Hashanah.

Israel’s borders have been closed to foreign nationals for a year and a half with very limited exceptions.

As the pandemic subsided in the spring, the country reopened the skies for a limited number of vaccinated tourist groups in early June, preparing to do the same for individuals in July. However, after coronavirus cases began to climb again, the plan was postponed until early July before being put on hold indefinitely.

In early August, when the Ministry of Health introduced a mandatory seven-day quarantine for travelers from almost every country in the world – including the United States, Canada and the vast majority of Europe – group travel also ceased.

At present, Israel does not recognize any foreign vaccination or recovery documentation. Non-citizens wishing to enter the country must present their certificates in order to receive the special permit required to enter, but once in Israel, if they are to be considered immunized, they must undergo a private serological examination. test to prove the presence of antibodies in their blood.

Currently, rapid serological tests are offered at Ben-Gurion Airport on arrival, along with PCR tests, which are mandatory for all incoming passengers. The test gives results in 20 minutes and costs 127 kroner.

On Friday, Birthright Israel announced that they will resume tours starting in October. The organization sponsors short-term educational trips for Jewish youth from around the world.

According to new rules that came into force on Friday, people who received their third shot at least a week earlier, have had their second shot or recovered within the last six months or have received a dose of the vaccine after recovering are considered protected. and only need to isolate until they get the results of a PCR test taken on arrival, or a maximum of 24 hours, unless they come from a red country.

Several officials in the Ministry of Health have clarified to Posten that this does not apply to people who have been vaccinated or recovered abroad, even if they take a serological test and receive Israeli documentation. These include thousands of first-degree relatives of citizens who were allowed to visit their loved ones.

The official guidelines from the Ministry of Health do not state that people must be vaccinated in Israel in order to be exempted from quarantine, but they do require that the recovery certificate be issued based on a PCR test. This seems to exclude visitors whose certificates were issued after a serological test.

However, Coronavirus Commissioner Prof. Salman Zarka said in an interview with the Post that the policy will change after the holidays to give people who meet the new criteria but have been vaccinated abroad exempt from quarantine.

Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.

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