(dpa) – After a travel ban for months and one of the world’s fastest vaccination programmes, Israel now wants to let tourists into the country again in a few weeks – if they can prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In its first stage of welcoming international travellers back to the country, groups are to be permitted after May 23, as long as tourists can prove they have been vaccinated and test negative for the virus, the Health and Tourism Ministries announced on Tuesday.
Israel had virtually sealed itself off after the outbreak of the pandemic, allowing people from abroad to enter only in exceptional cases.
However, tourism is important to the country’s economy and has suffered from the impact of the pandemic.
Now, the government is gradually starting to relax restrictions following significant progress in its vaccination programme and a fall in the number of new infections and severe cases of Covid-19.
Almost four months after the start of the inoculation campaign widely deemed one of the most successful in the world, soon, 5 million people will have received their second jab.
Society in Israel has meanwhile already begun to open up again, and citizens who have had the required two coronavirus vaccine doses, or who have recovered from Covid-19, have also been allowed to visit theatres, museums and hotels.
Some argue that this so-called “green passport” initiative is discriminatory against people who choose not to vaccinate or who may not be able to for health reasons.
Since the start of the vaccination campaign on December 19, the number of new infections as well as the number of seriously ill people has fallen sharply in the country of 9 million people.