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The Israel Ministry of Tourism, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health has announced that on May 23 the country will begin welcoming vaccinated groups of international travelers back into the country through a phased approach after more than a year without tourism due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I am happy to share the news that Israel is taking great strides in reopening to international travel this May,” said Eyal Carlin, tourism commissioner for North America. “We have been working to develop a plan that allows not only for the country to reopen to visitors, but also to ensure that everyone stays safe. We have come so far, and it is for this reason we are adapting this proactive strategy of having a phased opening. Sixty percent of Israel’s population has been vaccinated and with the United States and Israel using the same vaccines, we are hopeful that by summer we can open our doors wide and welcome every visitor to Israel who would like to come.”

The series of phases and guidelines will be outlined and released next week. The first phase will feature a pilot program kicking off on May 23, allowing a select number of tour groups to visit Israel—the number of groups will increase based on the overall health situation and progress/success of the program. Individual travelers will be welcomed in a later phase of reopening likely in July (TBD).

In all phases, visitors will be required to undergo a PCR test before boarding their flight to Israel, and a serological test—look for antibodies in blood—to prove their vaccination upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. In the meantime, discussions will continue to reach agreements for vaccine-certificate validation, with the goal of cancelling the need for the serological test.

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