Will Israelis be able to travel for Passover? It depends

As Israel’s skies partially reopened on Sunday, many have been asking themselves only one question: will I be able to travel on Passover? However, at this stage, ‘it depends’ is the only possible answer – also considering that the current regulations are only valid until March 20, a week before the holiday, and therefore rules might change at the last moment.For some, the eagerness to leave stems from the desire to enjoy a vacation abroad after a prolonged period stuck at home, but for many the matter is even more urgent: visiting family members who they might have not seen in months, if not more, elderly parents, newborn grandchildren and so on.According to the regulations approved by the government on Saturday night, as of Sunday Israelis who are eligible for a green passport are allowed to leave the country freely, as long as they present a negative coronavirus test. When they return, they are exempt from isolation.However, several obstacles remain.First of all, those who are not fully vaccinated and have not recovered from the virus still need to ask permission to the special governmental committee that for a month and a half was in charge of authorizing any form of traveling. This requirement includes children under 16 and people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons.At press time of Sunday, in spite of the fact that the rules had come into effect almost 24 hours before, the Health Ministry was not prepared to clarify whether those people are going to need a humanitarian reason to be permitted to travel, nor if infants under one year old, who according to the latest guidelines can enter all venues which require a green passport, can travel with their parents freely.For those who have a vaccination or recovery certificate, the next question is whether the country they wish to visit will allow them in, also considering that many nations are just now dealing with a new coronavirus outbreak.

According to sources within the Foreign Ministry, at the moment, two countries officially recognize the Israel’s vaccination certificate, Seychelles and Lithuania, while Georgia also announced it accepts it, but did not discuss the matter with Israel. A fourth nation, Cyprus, will begin recognizing it on April 1, so just a few days after the beginning of Passover. Moreover, Greece also expressed the intention of accepting the certificate, but the move is not finalized yet, as the European Union appears to be adverse to the idea – in spite of the fact that Lithuania is also a member of the EU.However, while there is no mutual recognition of the vaccination certificate, Israelis can travel to the US – provided that they have not visited a list of other countries that include most European nations and China. The US does not require those who arrive from abroad to enter isolation.Moreover, in the vast majority of cases Israelis are still going to be able to enter countries of which they hold citizenships. Other than Israel, few countries have banned their citizens to enter their borders.In many cases however, vaccinated or not, they are still going to be required to enter a period of quarantine, which might spoil the point of the vacation.Finally, the lack flights might represent a problem. During high season, as Passover usually is, some 100,000 passengers can travel through Ben Gurion in a single day.Currently, only 1,000 Israelis are allowed to enter the country, a number which is expected to be increased to 3,000 in the coming days.Even assuming that for every passenger that enters there is also a seat for a passenger who wishes to leave, this is still a fraction of the people who might be interested in doing so.Before COVID-19, Ben-Gurion had some 700 slots available every day, now every flight has to be authorized by the Transportation Ministry in cooperation with the Health Ministry, and only certain destinations are allowed – Frankfurt, New York, Paris, London, Kiev and soon Toronto and Hong Kong.Between current limits and lack of clarity, many of those who wish to travel might be forced to wait yet a little longer.

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