Just as Israel was on its way of full recovery from the pandemic, a sudden increase of COVID-19 cases on June 21 reminded us that it’s not entirely over, yet. The case numbers are still low – first an increase from 49 to 125 per day. Later last week it peaked at 230 verified cases. Before that, COVID-19 cases were single digit or in the low 10s. Health experts emphasized that they do not expect another major outbreak.
The reason for the increase of COVID-19 cases has been traced to two families who – returning from a vacation abroad – did not comply with regulations. To prevent another wave of the pandemic, the new government is implementing severe fines and some restrictions. Masks are once again mandated everywhere except outdoors. The government is also calling parents to vaccinate their children aged 12-15. The last few days showed a sharp rise in COVID-19 vaccinations.
Unfortunately the restrictions also affect Israel travelers. The new government postponed the planned “opening of the sky” for individual travelers (FIT) from July to August. A limited number of tourist groups had already been permitted entry to Israel. All travelers entering Israel must be fully vaccinated, or show proof that they have recovered from COVID-19. Furthermore, they must produce a negative PCR test result from within 72 hours prior to leaving the country of origin. As of now, each traveler who is not a resident of Israel requires a preliminary approval from Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Travelers have then to take another PCR test upon arrival in Israel. The list goes on.
You can find the current regulations for travelers to Israel here, here, and – specifically for foreigners – here. Because of the long list of requirements, which may change any day as a result of the pandemic and new regulations, I strongly recommend you consult with travel agents experienced in Israel travel, or contact your local Israel Diplomatic Mission. You can find some valuable information on the U.S. Embassy to Israel website.
The Israeli tour guide association for incoming tourism is working to raise these difficulties with the new government in order to help simplify the entry to Israel. As several travel agents told me, the destination Israel is in high demand. It might therefore be advisable to contact your travel agent soon.