Israel Allows Entry to Groups of Tourists Without COVID Booster Shot

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Ben Gurion International Airport, in September.
Ben Gurion International Airport, in September. Credit: Hadas Parush
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Israel has approved the entry of tourists from countries with low and moderate COVID infection rates, even if they have not been vaccinated with the booster shot.

However, these tourists will only be allowed into the country if they received two doses of a vaccine that has been authorized by the World Health Organization, even if six months has elapsed since their second shot.  

The new guidelines are subject to the approval of the Knesset's Constitution Law and Justice Committee. They are expected to be approved Tuesday.

Groups of five to 40 tourists will be permitted to enter the country upon meeting the following requirements: the group will travel as an isolated pod and will be restricted to visiting areas with low risk of infection; during the first week of the tourists' stay in Israel, the  members of the group who have not received the third shot, will be obligated to carry a confirmation of a negative coronavirus test or a PCR test conducted within the prior 72 hours, or a negative antigen test carried out within the prior 24 hours.

In addition, a tourist designated as the group leader will be obliged to report to the Tourism Ministry about every such test and will keep a record of the group's conduct, including the group's schedule, people they came in contact with, and the places they visited. The group leaders will report to a Health Ministry epidemiological researcher if one of the group's members is found positive.

Two weeks ago, following his meeting wtih Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett decided to allow people who received the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to enter Israel as of November 15.

The Russian vaccine is not recognized by the WHO or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and according to Bennett’s decision, entry to Israel for those vaccinated with Sputnik V will also be conditioned on taking a serological test. Israeli officials have said the decision was made under pressure from the Russians, in advance of the meeting between Putin and Bennett. 

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