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Israel to reopen to vaccinated tourists starting May 23

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Apr 14, 2021 9:47 pm

After more than a year of closing its borders to international visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel announced recently that it will reopen the country to vaccinated groups of foreign tourists starting May 23.

This will be the first time that Israel will be allowing non-residents to enter the country since its first lockdown in March 2020.

With its highly successful vaccination program that began in December 2020, Israel was able to reopen most sectors of its economy, as even schools are set to fully reopen in the next few weeks. And as the rate of COVID-19 cases continue to drop in the country, its citizens are no longer required to wear face masks outdoors starting April 20.

Now, its tourism industry is about to kick off, albeit cautiously.

“Israel is the first vaccinated country, and the citizens of Israel are the first to enjoy the result. After opening the economy, it is time to allow tourism in a careful and calculated manner,” said Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein in a statement.

According to its Ministry of Tourism, a limited number of organized groups will be allowed to enter the country daily starting May 23.

The number will gradually increase based on the health situation and progress of the program. Individual travelers will be allowed at the next stage.

All international tourists will be required to undergo a PCR test within 72 hours of travel to Israel. Upon arrival in the country, travelers need to take a PCR test again plus a serological test to prove they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

For his part, Minister of Tourism Orit Farkash-Hacohen said in a statement, “It is time that Israel’s unique advantage as a safe and healthy country start to assist it in recovering from the economic crisis, and not only serve other countries’ economy.”

Before the pandemic, many Filipinos visited Israel to embark on a journey to trace the birth, life and death of Christ. Philippine passport holders have visa-free access to Israel for up to 90 days.