Israel sets a new alarming trend in closing tourism for vaccinated travelers
Flights from the U.S. to Israel are booked solid in July. Hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time have high booking rates with tourists expected to arrive from the United States.
Israel made big announcements celebrating the opening of the Jewish State for tourism for vaccinated visitors. This triggered similar announcements by other countries.
Today Israel Media reports that vaccinated foreign tourists are not going to be allowed into Israel before August 1. A new finding in regards to the dangerous Delta Variant delays the reopening of the country. This may again trigger a trend in other parts of the world.
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government decided today, Wednesday, as Israel faces an increase in coronavirus cases. In addition, the obligation to wear masks indoors will be restored if the average daily cases will exceed 100 for a week.
“Our goal at the moment, first and foremost, is to protect the citizens of Israel from the Delta variant which is raging in the world,” Bennett told local media. “At the same time, we want to reduce as much as possible the disruption to daily life in the country. Therefore, we decided to act as early as possible – right now – so as not to pay a heavier price later on, by taking responsible and quick actions.“It is up to us,” he said. “If we adhere to the rules and act responsibly, we will succeed together.”
Vaccinated tourists were originally supposed to be allowed into the country starting on July 1. This was announced in a tourism rebuilding plan.
In recent days, the country has been hit by the Delta variant, causing an increase in infections in cities such as Modi’in and Binyamina.
The decision by Israeli authorities who are known to put the safety of its citizens always first may trigger a trend for other tourism destinations around the world. It may increase restrictions for arriving tourists, despite the assumption that vaccination is the golden key for the travel and tourism industry.
There are currently some 554 active cases in the country. The number had recently dropped to less than 200. At its record last winter, the figure stood at over 85,000.
Following the current outbreaks and the new recommendation by the authorities to vaccinate all children ages 12-15, over 7,000 shots were administered on Tuesday, the highest in over a month. Some 4,000 of them were first doses to children, about double the amount of previous days.
To tackle the new outbreak, the government decided to establish a new coronavirus cabinet including Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, as well as other ministers.
Earlier in the day, the Health Ministry announced that in specific situations, vaccinated or recovered individuals may be ordered to enter quarantine.
According to current regulations, people who are considered fully immunized (a week after their second shot or after they recovered from the disease) are exempt from isolating if they come in contact with an identified virus carrier.
However, according to a new directive signed by the ministry’s director-general Chezy Levy, the director-general, a district physician, or the head of Public Health Services will be able to demand that these individuals isolate if they were in contact with someone infected with a variant of the virus that is considered especially dangerous or with an event with an exceptionally serious morbidity effect. They also might need to isolate if they are regularly in contact with a population at high risk or not vaccinated, or if they flew on the same plane with an identified coronavirus carrier.In addition, the new directive restores the obligation to wear a mask at the airport and in medical facilities.
The minister also assured that the logistical issues at Ben-Gurion Airport’s testing complex – which on Friday caused some 2,800 incoming passengers to go home without getting tested, as is required for all those who land in Israel – have been solved, and that the enforcement of travel regulations is in the process of being stepped up.
Israelis who fly to countries under the travel ban – at the moment Argentina, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa – without obtaining permission from the special governmental committee devoted to this purpose, will now be fined.