In a major shift in its approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, Israel, which has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the world, has junked the requirement for tourists to be fully vaccinated before entering the country in order to revive tourism.
From March 1, Israel will allow entry to all tourists regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, as decided by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, with the involvement of Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov.
“We are seeing a steady decline in the mortality rates across the world therefore, we see it is time to gradually open tourism,” says Prime Minister Bennett. Under the new guidelines, tourists of all ages, irrespective of vaccination, can enter the country as long as they have a negative RT-PCR test before arriving and take another test upon landing in Israel. So far, Israel had been allowing only those fully vaccinated to enter.
“Our indicators must be in sync with the situation on the ground, we must be certain that what we are telling the public is in sync with what is to be expected. In order to maintain public trust and to be sure that the government’s guidelines are being implemented, we need to open up when the situation improves – and it is improving significantly,” says Bennett.
The Prime Minister added that the government would keep a close watch on the situation and take quick decisions and change rules if situation warranted so. “At the moment, the situation in Israel is good, which is the direct result of correct and dynamic management. Though Israel is opening to tourism, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and, in the event of a new variant, we will act quickly again,” he said.
Sammy Yahia, Israel’s Director of Tourism to India and Philippines, is thrilled over the development and its implications for the Indian market, which had been a primary focus for Israel before the pandemic outbreak. ‘‘This is the news we have been waiting for since the first wave of the pandemic brough the world to a standstill two years ago. We are confident that visitor numbers will gradually recover to pre-pandemic numbers as consumer confidence grows in line with the gradual easing of restrictions. Our first, and most important priority is the safety and wellbeing of all those who wish to travel to Israel, and starting next week, I look forward to welcoming Indian tourists back to my beautiful country,” says Yahia.