Israel has lifted its ban on travellers coming from countries where the omicron variant is prevalent, as border restrictions are now considered inefficient.
The country has also “killed off” its “red list”, which defines countries with high Covid-19 infection rates, has. The decision was announced by Israel’s Health Ministry, which explained that the fast spreading of omicron infections locally has turned the travel ban “totally futile and inefficient”. The number of daily cases almost doubled between January 5 and January 11 from 18,000 to 31,500.
The decision allows foreign tourists, who have to be either vaccinated or recovered, to enter Israel including the ones designated on its previous “red list”. These include important markets such as Canada, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the U.A.E. and the UK.
From red to orange status
All of these countries are now on the country’s “orange list”. Vaccinated or recovered travellers originating from these countries must quarantine for 24 hours upon arrival in Israel, or until receiving a negative test result. They also must undergo a PCR test prior to flying. Unvaccinated arrivals must receive two negative tests: one upon arrival, and one after seven days of quarantine.
Total arrivals to Israel was divided by 10 between 2019 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Last year, first estimates show a total of 401,500 foreign travellers compared to 4.5 million in 2019.
However, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism is optimistic for 2022. The institution sees a strong potential for tourism from the Gulf area with the establishment of diplomatic relations and the start of flights with some Arabic countries (such as Bahrain or the U.A.E.). Israel could attract some 200,000 Muslim travellers in 2022, according to Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahum in an interview to a local news agency.