Israel’s complicated new policy to avoid quarantine upon returning from abroad addresses all kinds of scenarios except one big one. What about foreign nationals?
As of 9/3, Israelis who have received a 3rd vaccine dose or who tested positive for COVID in the past 6 months or who got their 2nd dose in the past 6 months can avoid quarantine after returning from abroad by testing negative for a COVID PCR before travel and again after landing.
Red countries, including Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico, and Turkey, remain no-go zones that are off-limits to Israelis.
After the quarantine avoidance option was announced, massive queues formed at Tel Aviv’s Kikar Dizengoff, where vaccinations are available until 2AM with no appointment required. Earlier that day there were no lines there.
כשבתל אביב שמעו שמחוסנים לא יצטרכו להיכנס לבידוד בחזרה מחו״ל pic.twitter.com/Tq8LqI531H
— יבגני זרובינסקי (@ivgiz) August 29, 2021
Everyone 12 and older is eligible and encouraged to get a 3rd vaccine dose 5 months after their 2nd dose and you are now only considered fully vaccinated a week after your 3rd dose. Green Passports will be valid for 6 months from your PCR positive test or 6 months from your 2nd or 3rd vaccine dose (or from your 1st vaccine dose if you had COVID).
Israel has now vaccinated over 2 million citizens with a 3rd dose. The rate of severe hospitalizations among the non-vaccinated is 15 times greater than those fully vaccinated.
Unfortunately, some 18 months into the pandemic, Israel still doesn’t know how to deal with foreigners.
They had planned to open this summer to vaccinated visitors, but that was cancelled after the delta variant caused a spike of cases in Israel.
But while studies show that people with high antibody levels after a vaccine are protected and people with low antibody levels after a vaccine are vulnerable to breakthrough COVID, we don’t yet know what exactly those levels are.
Israel’s refusal to recognize vaccines administered outside of the country means there is still no game plan to allow foreign nationals into the country. The new guidelines don’t even give any guidance to foreign nationals, even if they have a green passport from testing positive for antibodies in the past. The Ministry of Health is telling people who ask to wait until the new policy goes into effect on Friday to find out how they will deal with foreign nationals and those who received vaccines abroad.
And so despite Ben Gurion Airport finally getting antibody testing, Israel no longer recognizes antibody levels as a means to avoid quarantine.
Israel’s reactions since day 1 of the pandemic have felt that they were implemented without much thought into logistics or how it would affect people. Often times contradicting guidance has been provided or no guidance was offered at all. Israel’s embassies have been tasked with providing exceptions for foreigners to enter, but they aren’t given the resources to process requests in a timely manner.
18 months into a pandemic that is crossing the line into being an endemic virus, it seems odd that there aren’t more coherent policies in place as other countries have long ago managed. We have already cancelled 3 trips for us to go to Israel and see my wife’s brother, despite both of us being fully vaccinated. It’s upsetting that because we didn’t have the privilege of getting vaccinated in Israel, we don’t have any option to avoid quarantine, never mind trying to bring the kids in as well.
Sure, a country has an obligation to take care of its own citizens, but those citizens also long to have their relatives visit.
What do you make of Israel’s COVID era policies?