In a major change in policy, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced today that as of March 1, tourists will NOT need to be vaccinated anymore in order to come to Israel. This will allow those who cannot be vaccinated due to age (such as young children) or medical conditions (as well as those who for whatever reason chose not to be). It also allows those who have recovered from COVID and do not have digital recovery certificates to be able to come as well, as by default, recovery certificates are now not necessary either.
The testing rules have also changed. Tourists will now need to take a PCR test within 72 hours before the flight. An antigen test will NOT be allowed anymore. Israeli citizens will NOT need to take this test. Everyone, however, will still need to take a PCR test upon arrival to Israel and then quarantine for up to 24 hours or the receiving of a negative result, whichever comes first. In related news, Israel is working on establishing a 4-hour rapid PCR test at the airport for arriving passengers. This will then hopefully solve the problems of tourists to Israel missing out on an entire day of traveling.
As of now the form for entering Israel still exists. It must be filled out and submitted within 48 hours of one's flight. https://www.gov.il/en/service/request-entry-to-israel-covid19
The PCR test must be paid for online prior to arriving in Israel and after receiving clearance once the above form has been accepted. You can pay for it here: https://testngo.femi.com/en/sign-in.
NOTE: I am available to guide from March 1 (okay, actually from tomorrow) through March 21 (as well as many other dates in 2022 and beyond). For those wondering, I am vaccinated (and boosted) and itching to get on the road with you! This year in Jerusalem!
Essentially this is the last barrier to fall to finally allow tourism to begin again as normal. Just since July 1, 2021, when the country was supposed to open (after shutting down for 16 months) I have had 210 days of cancellations, with only 15 days of work. This was due to the government's policy of shutting down twice, during both the Delta and Omicron waves. While guides are still fighting the government to receive compensation (most of us have had no government help since July 1) for these lost days of work (and are currently working on taking their case to the Supreme Court), it is finally good to be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully this means that we tour guides will not have to change professions, as the Minister of Finance implored us to do recently. Amusingly it came on the same day as a major online jobs fair organized by our own Ministry of Tourism (and Labor) to help us find work in other fields.
For more on the new regulations and the 4-hour rapid PCR test, check out the links below.
Finally, if you need any extra incentive to come to Israel, we are supposed to be hosting this year Maroon 5 (May), Air Supply (May), Deep Purple (May), The Pixies (July), The Scorpions (July), Nick Cave (August), Counting Crows (September), The Lemonheads (September), Justin Bieber (October), Celine Dion (May 2023) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2023).
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