Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Israeli health officials announced a plan on Thursday to allow vaccinated tourists to enter the country starting Nov. 1, the first time the country will open its borders to tourism since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since May, Israel has allowed entry only to immediate relatives of Israelis who are vaccinated or have recently recovered from a coronavirus infection, provided they obtain approval from the government. The new plan, which still requires official government approval, comes at a time when infection rates in Israel are steadily declining after a fourth wave.
The country, which had one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives but has now been surpassed by more than 30 countries, is currently leading in booster shot distribution, with some 3.8 million of its 8.8 million people having received a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Israelis lifted domestic restrictions and largely returned to normal in May.
According to the office of the prime minister, tourists who have been fully vaccinated with most internationally recognized vaccines, as well as those who have recovered from Covid-19 within the last six months, will be allowed to enter the country, unless they are from “red” countries with severe outbreaks.
Tourists qualified to enter the country can receive a digital Green Pass, allowing them to enter restaurants, cafes, bars and other indoor places in Israel.
The plan will not allow those vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which is not approved by the World Health Organization, to enter the country yet. Mr. Bennett is mulling postponing their entry until Dec. 1.
The plan came a day before Mr. Bennett was scheduled to meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.