Report: Israel ‘Likely’ to Delay Reopening Borders to Tourists Until Sept.

YERUSHALAYIM -
The COVID-19 testing area at the Ben Gurion International Airport. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel is once again expected to push off allowing individual tourists into the country amid concerns over rising COVID-19 morbidity, according to a Channel 13 report on Motzoei Shabbos.

The postponement would see the return of general tourism move from August to September.

Israel has been allowing some tour groups into the country in recent months, but not tourists traveling independently. It had initially planned to reopen to the latter in May, but Health Ministry recommendations pushed the plans to July, then August, and that date is now expected to be moved back until September.

The report said the ministry is set to submit its recommendation for a fresh delay to the Coronavirus Cabinet, though no official decision has been made yet.

On Friday, the Health Ministry announced that all travelers, including those vaccinated and those who recovered from COVID-19, would be required to self-isolate for up to 24 hours upon arrival to the country or until their coronavirus test comes back negative, starting late next week.

Meanwhile, those returning from 16 countries deemed to have high rates of infection will be required to fully self-isolate for 14 days, or 10 days with two negative tests, according to the ministry’s updated guidelines, which will go into effect on July 16.

Israelis who are vaccinated or who recovered from COVID-19 had been, until recently, largely exempt from quarantine upon returning to the country.

The Health Ministry on Friday also updated the list of countries with high rates of infection from which Israelis are barred. The countries that are off-limits for Israelis are Uzbekistan, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia.

The resurgence of coronavirus in Israel has been largely attributed to the spread of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India and is believed to be twice as contagious as the original COVID strain.