Vaccine passport
Vaccine passportISTOCK

By the end of June, the first “vaccination passports” issued to Israelis (following the administration of two Pfizer vaccine doses) will expire, leading to worries by some – mostly those who are planning to travel abroad – that they will have to submit to PCR testing and perhaps even to quarantine restrictions.

Yediot Aharonot submitted an inquiry to the Health Ministry on the issue, and received a comprehensive reply addressing all travel-related concerns. The Ministry also divulged that a new “combination certificate” will shortly be issued to anyone who has either been vaccinated against the coronavirus, or has been confirmed to have recovered from it. This new certificate will be valid until the end of 2021, and will replace both the “green pass” and the “vaccine passports” issued until now.

In response to Ynet’s query, the Health Ministry stated: “The Ministry is in the process of creating a ‘combination certificate’ that will replace vaccination and immunity passports [granted to those who have been confirmed to have recovered from coronavirus], which will include all details of vaccinations and recovery [from disease]. The launch of this combination certificate is expected shortly, and it will be valid until the end of 2021, as things currently stand.”

The Ministry later clarified that, “The combination certificate should be launched by the end of June. The first certificates to expire are the recovery certificates, of which the earliest will expire on June 30th.”

Despite reassurances, many of those who have already purchased tickets for travel abroad are now concerned that they will be forced to take a coronavirus test once their vaccine passport/green pass expires – even though many countries, including those in the European Union, do not demand tests for those who have been vaccinated, and do not impose quarantine.

At the beginning of May, the Health Ministry actually announced the extension of the validity of the green pass because of the efficacy of the vaccine, only later to decide to scrap the pass altogether. Now, officials in the Ministry are working on the development of a combination passport that will be issue to vaccinated and recovered people alike, to replace both the green pass and the vaccine passport. The Ministry has also promised that a situation will not arise in which a person who has either been vaccinated or has recovered from the coronavirus will arrive at the airport or a border crossing only to find himself with an invalid pass.

Also this week, the Health Ministry publicized updated regulations for entering and exiting the country, and clarified that, “Anyone entering the country (both citizens and foreigners, including those who have recovered from Covid-19 and those who have been vaccinated against it), from anywhere abroad, who was abroad for more than 72 hours, is required to present, upon boarding a plane from their country of origin, a negative PCR test that was administered up to 72 hours before take-off or entry into Israel.”

The Ministry also stated that, “All those entering the country (both citizens and foreigners and including the vaccinated and those who have recovered from coronavirus) are required to fill out a declaration upon entry to Israel, less than 24 hours before taking off to Israel, and to present it to a representative of the airline company.”

In addition, all those entering the country are required to take a PCR test when they arrive. From June 6th, the cost of the test will be borne by the person taking it and will not be covered by the State. If the test is ordered in advance, before taking off, it will cost 80 shekels; for those paying on arrival who have not ordered in advance, it will cost 100 shekels at the airport. The test can also be taken at various other locations across the country, and the price will vary accordingly.

Until the combined certificate is launched, all passengers leaving the country will have to present a recovery certificate when they enter the airport terminal, or alternatively a vaccine passport, or a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before take-off.

Citizens and Israeli residents (except for exceptional cases that receive authorization from the exceptional cases committee) are not permitted to leave the country for countries where the risk of contracting coronavirus is deemed to be high – Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico, Russia. This does not apply to those whose “stay” in these countries is limited to a period of less than 12 hours within an airport (for a connecting flight).

The list of countries for which a travel warning has been issued: Namibia, Uruguay, The Seychelles, Bolivia, The Maldives, Nepal, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Tunisia. The Health Ministry has announced that, “If there is no significant improvement in the level of contagion in these countries, they are expected to enter the list of countries where the risk of contracting coronavirus is high. The general public is asked to keep updated on the situation and make their plans accordingly.”

All travelers arriving in Israel from countries where the risk of contagion is high must enter home quarantine according to Health Ministry guidelines. The Health Ministry advises against all non-essential travel to countries where Covid-19 contagion rates are high, even if the rates are not sufficiently high to bar them officially from traveling there.

It is the responsibility of all travelers to check the entrance policies for their place(s) of destination, and to comply with their regulations. Regulations for travelers leaving Israel can be found on the Health Ministry’s website, which includes information on taking the PCR test.