Israel soon allowing some tour groups to visit

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Jaffa Port, with a view of Tel Aviv in background
Jaffa Port, with a view of Tel Aviv in background Photo Credit: Dana Friendlander/Israeli Ministry of Tourism

JERUSALEM -- Israel says it will soon reopen its gates to foreign tour groups -- even as it battles one of the world's highest rates of coronavirus infections.

The country's Tourism Ministry on Sunday said it will begin allowing organized tour groups into the country beginning Sept. 19.

Tourists will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, present a negative PCR test before their flight and undergo both PCR and serological testing upon arrival. Visitors would have to quarantine in their hotels until the test results come back -- a process expected to take no more than 24 hours.

Tourists from a handful of "red" countries with high infection rates -- including Turkey and Brazil -- will not be permitted to visit for the time being.

Israel launched a similar program in May after vaccinating most of its population early this year. But the program was suspended in August as the delta variant began to spread.

In recent weeks, the country has begun administering booster shots to anyone who was vaccinated over five months ago. The campaign has shown signs of controlling the delta outbreak, allowing the government to begin allowing tourists to return. 

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