EU Lets Israeli Tourists Visit

Reopening to Israeli tourists comes as the EU is moving to ease its current COVID blanket ban on non-essential travel from foreign countries

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Tourists visiting the Eiffel Tower in August 2020
Tourists visiting the Eiffel Tower in August 2020Credit: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

The European Union on Thursday added Israel to the list of countries whose citizens will be allowed to visit for leisure, as Europe seeks to revive travel and salvage summer tourism from tough COVID-19 restrictions.

Reopening to Israeli tourists comes as the EU is moving to ease its current blanket ban on non-essential travel from foreign countries, with only a handful of exceptions, including New Zealand and Australia.

The decision, however, is not binding for member states, who will decide unilaterally or in reciprocal arrangements with Israel. 

Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi praised the decision, stating that it "paves the way for a gradual return to routine and economic growth after the coronavirus crisis."

Also on Thursday, Israel further eased its COVID restrictions, rescinding occupancy limits in taxis and other forms of transportation. In addition, Israelis will no longer be required to present special vouchers to take the train.

On Wednesday, the Israeli Health Ministry said that the validity of the so-called Green Pass, a certificate granted upon full vaccination, will be extended until the end of 2021.

The validity of the pass was initially for six months from the second vaccination dose, or until the end of June for recovering patients.

The announcement means that all who have been fully vaccinated in Israel will not have to receive a third dose until at least the end of 2021.

On Tuesday the coronavirus cabinet approved a series of further easing of restrictions, including raising the number of people in an enclosed space to 50 people and to 500 in an open space. 

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