Israel decides against vaccinated tourists

Israel’s new government has scrapped plans to allow vaccinated tourists into the country from July 1.  This may trigger other tourism destinations around the world to increase restrictions for arriving tourists. It challenges the assumption that vaccination is the golden key for the revival of travel and tourism.

To tackle new outbreaks, the government set up a new coronavirus cabinet and the Health Ministry has announced that in specific situations, vaccinated or recovered individuals may be ordered to enter quarantine.

According to current regulations, local people who are considered fully immunised (a week after their second shot or after they recovered from the disease) are exempt from isolating if they come into contact with an identified virus carrier.

However, according to a new directive, a district physician, or the head of Public Health Services will be able to demand that these individuals isolate if they have been in contact with someone infected with a variant of the virus that is considered especially dangerous or with an event with an exceptionally serious morbidity effect. They also might need to isolate if they are regularly in contact with a population at high risk or not vaccinated, or if they flew on the same plane with an identified coronavirus carrier. In addition, the new directive restores the obligation to wear a mask at the airport and in medical facilities.

Israel’s citizens have been almost fully vaccinated and international tourism was due to start on July 1. New findings related to the dangerous Delta variant of the COVID virus triggered the country to cancel the highly anticipated opening date for international travellers to visit Israel.

Vaccinated foreign tourists will now not be allowed into Israel before at least August 1. This, and the threat of restrictions, puts at risk travel deals Israel has with European and other countries.

Israel has also banned flights to more countries, including the UAE which has been added to the list of countries with a severe travel warning. Israeli citizens and residents are prohibited from travelling to countries at maximum risk, which include Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia.

All arrivals and returning citizens, including recovering and vaccinated travellers, are required to quarantine upon entry for 14 days (shortening to 10 days if two negative coronavirus tests are completed).

The new bans mean that outbound and inbound medical tourism to Israel remains at a standstill and that may last for much of 2021.