Photo Credit: Yehonatan Valtser/TPS
Tourists walk through the streets in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Nov 6, 2019.

The Corona Cabinet approved a new outline, on Sunday evening, that will enable groups of tourists vaccinated with two COVID-19 vaccines to enter Israel, even if more than six months have passed from the time they received the vaccine, and even if they have not received the third vaccine.

The efficacy of the second vaccine has been proved to diminish over time, thus requiring a third booster vaccine.

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Israel is seeking ways to rehabilitate the tourism industry and to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of people working in the industry can continue to remain employed.

These tourists are required to obtain an entry permit from the Ministry of Tourism prior to arrival in Israel, and must come from “green” and “yellow” countries with low infection rates, according to the classification of the Ministry of Health.

The groups, consisting of five to 40 tourists, will be run as a capsule, with restrictions on walking around in places with an increased risk of infection such as clubs or bars.

During the first seven days of their stay, the “unprotected” tourists in the group will perform a PCR test every 72 hours or present a negative result in an antigen test performed every 24 hours.

The group leader will keep a record of the group’s conduct, contacts, places and visiting hours, and will present it to an epidemiological researcher if a patient is found in the group.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz stated after the vote that “also in tourism, we will live alongside the Corona.”

“We are taking all precautions and controls to maintain public health and identify new variants quickly. At the same time, we are maintaining the Israeli economy, education, culture, tourism and the routine of life in Israel,” he said.

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said that the government is “removing restrictions and approving more tourists to enter Israel. The road to returning tourists is still long, so we must act quickly and correctly to increase the number of tourists to Israel.”

“The Israeli economy needs it, and of course, the tourism industry workers need it,” he added.

The outline requires the approval of the Knesset’s Constitution Committee, after which it will take effect immediately.

Some 34,500 tourists visited Israel in September, 128% more than last year when Israel was in the midst of its third Coronavirus wave, but still 91.5% less than September 2019, when 405,000 tourists entered Israel.

September, during which the Jewish High Holidays are usually celebrated, is a peak season for tourism in Israel.

In the first nine months of 2021, about 243,500 tourists visited Israel, compared to 782,700 in the corresponding period in 2020, but still 69% more than the same period in 2019.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.
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