Israel to Permit Entry From ‘Green States’ Without Quarantine

YERUSHALAYIM -
The empty departure hall at Ben Gurion International Airport, April 12. (Flash90)

The Health Ministry recommended Wednesday to permit the entry of tourists from “green states” without needing to undergo testing for coronavirus or quarantine.

It is hoped that this change in policy will lead to a restart of the tourism industry in Israel. The target date for the start of international flights is August 16.

Attending a Knesset deliberation, Associate Director General of the Health Ministry Prof. Itamar Grotto said that the ministry will soon approve a new outline for restarting air travel. “Whoever arrives from a ‘green state’ will not need two weeks of quarantine, period,” he said. “This plan still requires final tweaks. It obviously can not happen tomorrow morning, but from our end, we will make every effort to make it work.”

Tourism Minister Asaf Zamir commented on the news, saying “the skies should open as fast as possible.”

Transportation Minister Miri Regev branded the decision as “important news for the aviation industry.”

Following the decision of the Health Ministry, this is the list of the “green countries,” according to lists transferred to the airlines: Austria, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania , Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.

Similar to other countries, Israel’s travel and tourism sectors have taken a major financial hit during the coronavirus crisis.

The government’s handling of the pandemic has come under criticism as many nations in Europe have opened their borders, while excluding Israel from the list of safe “green countries” and requiring its nationals to enter quarantine.

Despite Israeli approval, from the point of view of the European Union, Israel is still considered a “red state.” This means that Israelis cannot enter EU countries. Israelis with a foreign passport can travel but in some countries they will require isolation, checks or other restrictions. In Cyprus, for example, Israelis will be able to enter only after passing a coronavirus test. Israelis can not enter Greece at all.

Tourists from Europe will be able to enter Israel, but will need isolation, or some other restriction of checks according to the decision of each country on its citizens.