Israel reopens borders only to small groups of foreign tourists

Photo: EPA

Israel reopened its borders to foreign tourists on Sunday after a fall in Covid-19 infections but said it would take time to revive the tourism industry, news wires reported. After easing of coronavirus restrictions, the government went ahead with a plan to start letting in small groups of tourists from countries using vaccines it has approved.

Foreign airlines are also resuming flights they suspended when Palestinian militants began rocket attacks on Israel this month. A ceasefire has now halted the fighting, helping the government meet Sunday's target date for starting the plan. Under a pilot programme due to continue until 15 June, Israel gave the green light to visits by 20 groups of between 5 and 30 tourists from countries including the United States, Britain and Germany, Reuters reported. Another 20 groups were chosen to be on standby if any of the first 20 tour operators did not meet Israel's conditions.

Israeli authorities believe that initially limiting tourism to small groups is the best way to monitor and contain the spread of Covid-19, especially new variants. The plan is to boost the number of groups in June and allow individual tourists to start visiting in July.

Israel has fully vaccinated about 55% of its population.

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