El Al airplane
El Al airplanePhoto: Moshe Shai / Flash90

Israel is set to drop a number of restrictions on air travel starting next month, including a ban on the entry of most individual tourists.

Israel’s Interior Ministry announced Sunday afternoon that beginning on July 1st, all vaccinated tourists, whether they are arriving as individuals or as part of group tours, will be granted automatic entry into Israel, without the need for prior approval.

From now until July 1st, the Ministry said, tourists will still need to apply for approval prior to entering Israel, adding that approval will be granted based on a number of criteria. Chief among the deciding factors, the Ministry said, will be the tourist’s COVID vaccination status.

Unvaccinated tourists who are permitted to enter the country prior to July 1st will be required to remain in isolation 10 to 14 days, based on Health Ministry guidelines. Children under six who have not been vaccinated will be granted entry if their parents are approved based on the criteria.

During the interim period prior to July 1st, tourists will not be permitted into the country from nations with high COVID infection rates, including India, Russia, Mexico, Braizl, South Africa, and Argentina. Exceptions to this ban will be made by a special committee.

Israelis will be permitted to travel abroad freely, with the exception of countries on the black list with high infection rates. The exceptions committee will also evaluate requests for travel to the countries on the list.

Foreign nationals will be permitted to leave Israel with no restrictions.

Entry to foreign nationals will be open without prior approval for residents of most countries, though the Ministry said Sunday it is still drawing up a list of countries whose citizens will be required to seek permission to enter Israel.

Automatic entry to Israel will be dependent on travelers having been vaccinated, and the Ministry said it will release details in the coming days regarding which COVID vaccines it will accept for the purposes of entering the country.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) celebrated the new policy Sunday, while advising Israeli travelers returning home to behave responsibly.

“After spending a year in lockdowns and isolation, we are excited to start the summer vacation.”

“Many families will travel abroad, and when they return, they will need to show responsibility and adhere to the regulations. The recent outbreaks occurred because a family which has yet to be vaccinated came back to Israel and didn’t stay in isolation.”

“In order to get through the summer safely and to quickly return to the routine we’ve waited so long for, following the rules is absolutely essential.”

“I ask all Israeli citizens – this is up to you. Please follow the isolation rules for those who are not vaccinated in order to help us keep the country open to travel abroad and return travel.”