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Israel to Readmit COVID-vaccinated Foreign Tourists

Israel to Readmit COVID-vaccinated Foreign Tourists

Thursday, 21 October, 2021 - 13:45
A medical worker prepares to administer a second vaccination injection against the coronavirus disease in Israel. Reuters file photo

Individual tourists who are vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to enter Israel from next month, the government said on Thursday, further easing curbs on foreign arrivals.

A joint plan between the tourism and health ministries and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will allow the admission of foreigners who received most internationally recognized vaccines as of Nov. 1.

The vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sinovak and Sinopharm - but not Russia's Sputnik. Bennett's office said people coming from “red” countries with high outbreaks would not be permitted, while officials will monitor new variants, including a strain identified in Israel this week.

The plan is subject to a formal cabinet approval and "will be updated in accordance with developments and the discovery of new variants", the joint statement said.

Israel's borders have largely been closed to foreigners since March 2020. It has in recent months allowed in small groups of vaccinated tourists and first-degree relatives of Israelis.

The tourism ministry has been pushing hard to allow all vaccinated tourists to enter. Israel's economy is open with the exception of the battered tourism sector.

The health ministry has advised caution given the possibility of new coronavirus variants.

Thursday's decision comes just ahead of the busy Christmas season, when tens of thousands of foreigners visit holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.

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