Published on : Tuesday, February 23, 2021
In light of nearly 4.3 million people receiving at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, Israel has started to prepare for reopening its economy once again. The domestic tourism sector is gradually witnessing a return as locals return to cultural events, mall shopping, museums and gyms. Rural accommodation (zimmers) has now been joined by hotels in opening under coronavirus restrictions.
The exit plan has been created based on the purple and green badge scheme. Entry to hotels, cultural and sports events, gyms and studios, swimming pools and places of worship is allowed only to green badge holders. People eligible for the green badge, which is issued by the health ministry, are either at least a week after the second coronavirus vaccine or have recovered from the disease. The badge, with its unique QR code, has to 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 (as children have not been vaccinated). The hotels in the Dead Sea resort area of Ein Bokek and Hamei Zohar are once again designated as a green island area.
This designation allows the hotels to fully reopen with all facilities, for green badge holders and children under 16 with a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Hotels in Eilat will only join the green island designation if the level of infection in the city reduces to the lowest level within the next two weeks. 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 also open now according to a stringent version of the purple badge. The Mount Hermon ski site on the Golan Heights, which recently received meters of snow, is now open for all visitors, with advanced registration. All nature reserves and parks are also open with advance registration and limited numbers.
The next phase of the exit plan will begin on March 7, only if the infection rates continue 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 are offering take-away and delivery services only) will be able to re-open, according to the purple badge.
However, airports and land crossings will remain closed until at least March 6. Sharon Bershadsky, Director, Israel Tourist Office U.K., said in a statement that after a long, forced break, COVD-19 vaccinations are being distributed at a rapid rate and therefore, Israel will soon not only be an attractive destination for tourists from the U.K. and the entire world but also a healthy one. She mentioned that authorities 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 and that Israel is looking forward to welcoming tourists as soon as it is safe to do so.