Israel will from Sunday allow entry to vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries, the health ministry said, five weeks after it shut its borders to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and a group of ministers agreed Monday that “entry of vaccinated/recovering tourists from ‘orange’ countries will be permitted” from Sunday, the ministry said in a statement.
Israel had closed its borders to all foreign tourists last November 28. Bennett said at the time the move aimed to prepare Israel for an inevitable fifth wave of Covid cases.
Last Sunday, Bennett said the temporary blanket prohibition on foreign arrivals had achieved its goal, even as domestic Covid infections have soared.
“This greatly delayed the entry of Omicron to the country,” he said.
“We bought time and we utilised it well,” the premier added, saying Israel had acquired significant stocks of the Pfizer antiviral drug Paxlovid.
Visitors will have to take a PCR or antigen test prior to boarding their flights and another PCR test when they arrive. They then have to quarantine for 24 hours or until receiving the result, the ministry said.
Israel prohibits its citizens to visit what it considers Covid high-risk countries, and tourists from those locations will not be allowed into the Jewish state.
As of Monday, Israel’s list of “red” countries included Britain, Ethiopia, Mexico, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, according to the health ministry.
The ministry on Monday reported 6,562 new Covid infections, nearly double the daily average of last week. Almost 1.4 million Covid infections, including 8,244 deaths, have been officially recorded in Israel.