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Israel Opens Airport COVID Test Center + More Tourism News

As a tour guide of Israel, I am happy to let you know of some good news regarding the opening of tourism to Israel. Israel hit a milestone today when it opened today a coronavirus test center which allows for testing for both arriving and departing passengers. Outgoing travelers who test negative will then receive a medical passport which can be used to enter a number of countries. No word yet on whether incoming travelers from "red" countries will still be forced to quarantine if they test negative. There will be a "quick" version which takes 5-6 hours and a slower version which takes 14 hours with the former costing $40 and the latter costing $13.

As a reminder, Israel is allowing for returning Israelis as well as visitors - with prearranged permission - from some 20-30 "green" countries to enter Israel without needing to quarantine. Business travelers coming from green countries can enter without a test for 7 days and as of last week, business travelers from red countries can enter without a test for 4 days though their visit will be limited in scope and must be pre-approved. For more on all of these regulations see my prior post here:

Also this week, Israel reduced the quarantine period to 12 days from 14, in a pilot program set to last until the end of 2020. This, however, is for anyone potentially exposed to someone with coronavirus. It does not make mention of incoming travelers from red countries who are still required to quarantine (though likely for 12 days as well).

Meanwhile, in order to jump start tourism, Israel has been discussing opening "tourist islands" which would allow Eilat and the Dead Sea (two areas which can be easily closed off and are highly dependent on tourism) to open up for tourism with incoming tourists who can show recent negative coronavirus tests. It came up for a vote today in the Knesset, however as some ministers wanted to add in green cities to the bill, allowing them to have local tourism, the Health Minister withdrew the bill completely, coming under harsh criticism for doing so. Either way, it is something that should be happening soon and is a good first step.

Perhaps most importantly, tour companies and guides were just given permission to get back to guiding with groups of up to 19 people. Now we just need to allow the tourists back in if they get a negative test at the airport :).

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