With around 4.3 million people vaccinated in Israel at the time of writing, the eyes of the world are focused on Israel’s reopening as it slowly exits lockdown.
As Israelis return to cultural events, mall shopping, museums and gyms, the domestic tourism sector is slowly reopening, with rural accommodation (zimmers) now joined by hotels, under coronavirus restrictions and guidelines.
The exit plan is based on the Purple Badge and the Green Badge outline. Entry to hotels, cultural and sports events, gyms and studios, swimming pools and places of worship is allowed only to Green Badge holders. Those eligible for the green badge, which is issued by the Health Ministry, are those who have received the second coronavirus vaccine or have recovered from the disease. The green badge, with its unique QR code, must be presented either in digital or print form, together with ID, at the entrance to these establishments.
At the current stage of the exit plan, hotels and rural accommodation are open on a room only basis. Dining rooms are closed, but room service is allowed. Entry to hotels is also allowed for children under 16 with a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of arrival (this, because children have not been vaccinated).
The Purple Badge standard limits participation and requires social distancing and mask wearing, which is mandatory in Israel. Malls, open shopping centres and markets, street stores, museums, libraries, zoos, outdoor tourist attractions and safaris are now open according to a stringent version of the Purple Badge.
For malls and stores, this includes restrictions on the number of people allowed in the malls and stores, dependent on size; food stalls and eating are forbidden. For museums and outdoor attractions, restrictions related to the number of people allowed, advance booking only, guided tours up to ten people etc. The Mount Hermon ski site on the Golan Heights, which recently received meters of snow, is now open for all visitors, with advance registration. All nature reserves and parks are also open with advance registration and limited numbers.
Restriction on gatherings: ten people inside and 20 outside.
The next phase of the exit plan will begin on Sunday, 7 March 2021, so long as the country’s infection rate continues to decline, and more people get vaccinated.
- Hotels around the country will be able to offer full services, and indoor attractions, event halls, and conferences will open for green badge holders.
- Cafes and small restaurants (which up to now are offering take-away and delivery services only) will be able to re-open, according to the purple badge.
- Restrictions on gatherings: 20 inside and 50 outside (except for red cities in which the 10:20 ratio will remain in force)
Israel’s airports and land crossings remain closed until at least March 6, with up to 2,000 Israeli nationals allowed into the country each day, providing they have received special permission from the government’s exemption committee.
Sharon Bershadsky, director of the Israel Tourist Office UK, says: “After a long, forced break, COVID-19 vaccinations are being distributed at a rapid rate. In doing so, Israel will soon not only be an attractive destination for tourists from the UK and the entire world – but also a healthy one. We are pleased that the country is experiencing an ease of lockdown restrictions which will be considered the first step in opening up the country once more for international travel. We look forward to welcoming tourists to Israel as soon as it is safe to do so.”