Israel delays entry for vaccinated tourists as Delta variant spreads

Travelers looking to visit Israel are going to have to wait a little longer than expected. 

The country is postponing the date individual tourists can enter amid an uptick of COVID cases. Government officials had planned to allow individual vaccinated tourists to enter the country beginning July 1, but have pushed back the start date to Aug. 1. Authorized tour groups may still enter the country.

The decision comes as the highly-contagious Delta variant, which was first detected in India, becomes the dominant strain in various countries.  

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“Our goal at the moment, first and foremost, is to safeguard the citizens of Israel from the Delta variant that is running amok in the world,” newly-elected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday in a statement from his office. “We have decided to take action as soon as possible, even now, in order not to pay a heavier price later, by taking quick and responsible actions.”

People enjoy the mediterranean sea during the Eid al-Adha holiday in Tel Aviv's beach, Israel, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo: Oded Balilty, AP)

Under the new mandates, all Israelis traveling abroad are now required to sign a declaration promising not to enter high-risk countries. Officials also plan to reinstate a mask mandate in closed spaces if the country surpasses 100 new cases every day for one week.

Should the 100-new-cases-a-day threshold be crossed every day for a week, it will be obligatory to wear masks in closed spaces. At this stage, the professional officials are recommending that the citizens of Israel return to wearing masks.

More than 55% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, according to Israel’s Ministry of Health. The ministry’s website shows there were 169 new cases verified Wednesday, compared to 13 the week prior.

להגן על אזרחי ישראל מפני זן הדלתא שמשתולל בעולם
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