Israel to Welcome Tour Groups Despite a Resurgence in COVID-19 Cases

  • Israel’s Tourism ministry said it will start allowing organized tour groups with fully vaccinated visitors into the country starting September 19.
  • The country will welcome tour groups of between five and 30 people from most countries except those on its “red” list. 
  • Visitors will have to be fully vaccinated six months before arrival, or have a booster shot.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry said Sunday it will start allowing organized tour groups with fully vaccinated visitors into the country starting September 19, reported the Associated Press

The program will apply to tour groups of between 5 and 30 people from Israel’s list of green, yellow, and orange countries, per AP, while those on the red list, which denotes “highest risk” will still be barred. There are only four countries on the “red” list — Turkey, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Brazil, according to Israel’s health ministry. 

Incoming visitors will need to be fully vaccinated within the last six months or have a booster shot, the tourism ministry told Reuters. Additionally, they will also need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, and undergo another antibody test once they arrive at Israel’s airport, per the wire agency. 

The announcement came as Israel is now the country with the second most daily infections per capita in the world, according to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker. Israel has 104 cases per 100,000 people, per the tracker, registering more than 9,400 cases daily on average in the past week.  

The country’s tourism ministry rolled out a similar program in May to kick start travel to the country, after a swift vaccination rollout and a decrease in COVID-19 cases. But the government later suspended the plan in August due to an uptick of the Delta variant in the country. 

Israel is hoping that its high vaccination rate and current booster program will help the country open up. The country may eventually go for a fourth booster shot, reported the Times of Israel Saturday, as its coronavirus czar, Prof. Salman Zarka, called for preparations.  

The country has fully vaccinated 60.84% of its 9-million population as of September 4, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).  It has reported 1.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 7,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, per JHU. 

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