Update, 1/6: Delta and United announced that they will delay their flights from Tel Aviv to JFK/Newark tonight until after midnight so that Israelis can fly to the US without special permission. The list of red countries is expected to be abolished at midnight Israel time.
Update, 1/6: Israel’s health ministry is recommending that the list of red countries be abolished. This is expected to get government approval shortly, which would mean that effective this Sunday, anyone who is fully vaccinated or received a booster within the past 6 months can enter Israel without the need to request special permission to entry. Entrants will still have to home quarantine for 24 hours or until they get negative PCR results after landing, whichever comes first.
Update, 1/3: A DDF member who was triple vaccinated in Israel shares his harrowing experience with a quarantine hotel on Erev Shabbos after being told that he would be released the day before. Test results are taking longer than they used to…
Update, 12/28: The discrimination against non-citizens continues. Chaim V’Chessed reports that Israel is now sending some foreigners, who were vaccinated 3 times in Israel with a green pass, to government quarantine hotels.
Update, 12/28: Israel has extended the ban on foreigners yet again, this time through at least 11:59pm Israel time on January 3rd.
Update, 12/28: Chaim V’Chessed reports that Israel has flip-flopped twice this week and will once again require foreign nationals coming from red countries, who have received a special exemption to enter Israel, and that don’t have Israeli proof of vaccination or recovery, to go to a government quarantine hotel for a full 7 days.
Apparently Israel is doing this due to forged foreign vaccine certificates. Why can’t Israel just require a verified digital vaccine option or require an antibody test upon landing to prove vaccination or recovery? Nobody knows…
Update, 12/22: Air Canada has cancelled all flights to Israel through 2/28. El Al has reduced flights to the US through March.
Update, 12/21: Delta has moved from 2-3 daily flights between JFK and Tel Aviv to 1 daily flight from January 12th through October 29th.
Chaim V’Chessed reports that Israelis, permanent residents, and dual citizens must affirm that they won’t travel to a red country unless they receive permission to do so.
Israelis and residents who are vaccinated/recovered do return from a red country will have to consent to be tracked by phone in order to quarantine at home. Quarantine will be 14 days, which can be shortened to 7 with negative tests on days a and 7. Non-vaccinated/recovered Israelis and residents will have to quarantine in a designated hotel at their own expense until they get negative test results, before they can consent to tracking and finish quarantine at home.
While visa holders can’t enter Israel from a red country, student visa holders who traveled to a red country before it turned red can return. If they traveled there after it turned red, they need to wait until the country is no longer red.
Update, 12/19: Chaim V’Chessed reports that Israel will add the US, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey to the list of red countries on Tuesday at 11:59pm Israel time.
Israelis can’t travel to red countries without special permission and those returning from there will need to go into a quarantine hotel until they test negative. Afterward, they will be allowed to complete their quarantine from their home only if nobody else will be in the home for the duration of the quarantine.
Don’t cancel your flights before the date of your flight. Many airlines will be cancelling their flights and giving full refunds to people who haven’t yet cancelled their flights. In response to the UK turning red last week, British Airways is cancelling all flights to Israel through at least January 9th.
If a country doesn’t allow you to travel and an airline won’t provide a refund, you can file a DOT complaint here to have them intervene on your behalf.
It’s ridiculous that it has taken so long, but hopefully more ministers will lobby for diaspora Jews, who are eligible for the law of return and many of whom have family in Israel, to have the same entry requirements as Israelis…
Update, 12/15: Israel will add the UAE, France, Norway, Spain, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden to the list of red countries on Sunday at 11:59pm Israel time. The UAE is the first Abraham Accords country to be added to the new red country list. The list will continue to be updated on a daily basis.
The UK and Denmark will be added to Israel’s list of red countries (together with most of Africa besides for Egypt, Morocco, and Sudan) on Thursday at 11:59pm Israel time. Israel will be updating the red list on a daily basis and Belgium and other European countries are expected to be added to it.
Meanwhile, Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman recommends that travel agents and tour guides should change professions and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli says that it’s legitimate to sacrifice the tourism industry. Clearly, Israel’s policies won’t be changing anytime soon and nobody besides for MK Rothman seems to understand that this isn’t just about sacrificing tourist dollars, but about sacrificing the very relationship with diaspora Jews and losing hearts and minds with the continued closure.
There’s still no word on why diaspora Jews can’t be subject to the same reentry rules as Israelis.
Update, 12/9: Despite having fewer than 100 serious COVID cases and indications that Omicron is not leading to severe infections, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and Ynet report that Israel will extend their airport restrictions for at least another 10 days from Sunday, which would mean until December 22.
Chaim V’Chessed points out that the exact details are still not hammered out, and committee approval is still needed for the latest decisions.
Prime Minister Bennett also reportedly wanted to add a lockdown for the unvaccinated as has been done in Europe, but health ministry officials voted against that, though enforcement of Green Pass requirements will be ramped up with immediate fines for violations. The Prime Minister also requested for a full shutdown of Ben Gurion airport, though that was rejected as well.
Returning Israelis will continue to have to quarantine for 3 days if vaccinated/recovered or 7 days otherwise. Israelis coming from red countries will have to remain in a quarantine hotel until they test negative.
People that test positive for the Omicron variant will also have to quarantine for 14 days instead of 10 days and will need to be asymptomatic for the final 3 days of quarantine.
Earlier today, the Prime Minister promised diaspora Jews that he will reopen borders as soon as possible. No word if he also said “Read my lips. No new taxes.”
Update, 12/2: While Israel remains closed to foreign nationals, Israir trolls the Prime Minister’s family for going vacation abroad. That comes after Israel forced South Africans to fly home on Shabbos after they tried to pay a shiva call to a terror victim’s family, despite leaving South Africa before restrictions were enacted. Is there any sanity left in the holy land?
Update, 12/2: Israel will start enforcing airport entry requirements once again.
Update, 11/29: American Airlines tried denying boarding to all Americans on their final restrictions-free flight, until DansDeals, Chaikel Travel, Chaim V’Chessed, and Amudim got involved.
Update, 11/28: El Al confirms to me that Israel will allow tourists to board flights departing from the USA until 7:59am Israel time tomorrow, or 12:59am ET. [Chaim V’Chessed now also confirms that flights tonight will be eligible for tourists.]
Flights are still available to purchase from JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, Miami, San Francisco, and Toronto to Tel Aviv today.
We will be at JFK tonight for all flights to assist passengers with all of their needs including menorah lighting. Info@chabadair.com
— Rabbi Yossi Rapp (@ChabadAir) November 28, 2021
Update, 11/28: Chaim V’Chessed reports that vaccinated/recovered student visa holders and all A1-A5 and B1-B3 visa holders will be exempt from the new ban.
Israel’s Ministry of Health says that vaccinated tourists can board flights that depart by 11:59pm Israel time today, or 4:59pm ET.
However one source of mine tell me that will soon be extended to allow flights from the USA to depart until 7:59am Israel time tomorrow, or 12:59am ET. You can grab currently available flights for tonight on Priceline now and they will be fully refundable until departure time, while we wait for confirmation that tourists will be able to board flights tonight.
In the meantime:
- El Al has moved up their Los Angeles to Tel Aviv departure time today from 2pm to 1:55pm so that the flight departs before 11:59pm Israel time.
- El Al has a 12pm departure from Miami to Tel Aviv today.
- United’s flight 84 departure from Newark at 4:10pm is sold out and now has 9 people booked on later flights who are standing by for a seat. You can book tomorrow’s flight 84 and try to standby and refund if you don’t clear standby. Standby passengers are processed at the gate according to their United elite status, their fare class, and whether they are a United credit card holder.
- Air Canada has a 4:50pm departure from Toronto to Tel Aviv. You can still purchase tickets from cities like NYC to catch this flight:
Originally posted on 11/27:
Earlier this month Israel reopened to tourists who have been fully vaccinated or received a booster within the past 6 months. The country had been closed to most foreign nationals since March 2020.
They were set to loosen rules again, allowing antigen tests and groups that didn’t have booster shots.
But in response to the COVID-19 Omicron variant that can potentially evade immunity, Israel will close their doors to foreign nationals at 11:59pm Sunday evening for at least 2 weeks.
It’s unclear what will happen to foreign nationals who are en-route or reach Israel after that time, but there are decent odds that you will be sent back home. If you want to go to Israel from the US, you’ll want to try and catch a flight tonight.
Israel detected their first cases of the variant among vaccinated citizens who returned from Malawi.
Israel will also resume Shin Bet tracking of infected people and will require Israelis returning from select African countries to enter a quarantine hotel upon returning to Israel.
Israelis returning home from other countries will have to home quarantine for 3 days followed by a negative COVID test if they are vaccinated and 7 days followed by a negative COVID test if they are not vaccinated.
Did you have plans to visit Israel?