Israel set to open for tourists after a closure of nearly 18 months

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Israel set to open for tourists after a closure of nearly 18 months

Officials will drop the requirement for entry permits, meaning travellers will no longer need to ask for permission to visit

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

New arrivals: Olim at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport this year (Credit: Yonit Schiller)
Joy of return: not just olim, but tourists will be able to visit from next month (Credit: Yonit Schiller)

Israel is set to throw open its borders to tourists for the first time in nearly 18 months next week after officials scrapped a rule on entry permits.

From 1 November travellers will not be asked to fill out a form asking for permission to visit before they can board a flight to the country.

However, they will need to have been vaccinated no later than six months before the trip and it was still not clear if children would be allowed to enter.

One travel agent said the end of entry permits was “great news”.

“That was the biggest bugbear,” said David Segel, the managing director of West End Travel. “Unless you had a direct relative – a mother, a father, a brother, a sister – you couldn’t go. Even cousins weren’t close enough.

“It will make life easier. You don’t have to go through the hassle of going through the embassy or finding someone in the government to help.

“It’s really good news that they’ve got rid of one obstacle.”

Everyone entering Israel will need to take one PCR test before departure and another immediately upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, and wait up to 12 hours for the results before being released from quarantine.

Israeli authorities will also require travellers to have been vaccinated less than six months before the end date of their holiday, not the start.

It means visitors will have to leave Israel no later than 180 days after their last vaccine or booster shot.

But some confusion remained over the detail of the new travel rules, particularly on how they would apply to unvaccinated children.

Some reports suggested under 18s who have not had a jab would not be allowed entry, which would prevent families travelling from countries where children are not yet being vaccinated.

The Israeli Ministry of Health had not made a public announcement as the Jewish News went to press on Wednesday.

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