As the religious crossroads for Christianity, Islam and Judaism, it’s hard to imagine a destination that’s richer in cultural significance than Israel. While pilgrims and culture lovers alike flock to Jerusalem to see the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, there’s plenty of secular entertainment in Tel Aviv, which is abuzz with beach bars, vegan street food and – come July – the biggest Gay Pride celebration in the Middle East. And that’s without even mentioning the astounding landscape, which ranges from snow-capped peaks in the north to parched southern deserts and the earth’s lowest spot below sea level: the Dead Sea.
Is Israel on the green list?
Israel has been put on the UK’s green list of countries, which comes into effect from May 17. Prior to this date, it is illegal to travel abroad from the UK for the purpose of a holiday.
Will I have to quarantine?
The government has set up a traffic light system, which categorises countries based on risk alongside the restrictions required for travel. The Department for Transport said that key factors in the assessment include:
- the percentage of their population that have been vaccinated
- the rate of infection
- the prevalence of variants of concern
- the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing
After May 17, people arriving in the UK from green list countries will need to take a pre-departure test in that country. On or before the second day after arriving in the UK, they will need to take a PCR test, but will not need to quarantine on their return – unless they receive a positive test.
Israel has said it will re-open to vaccinated foreign tourists from May 23, although in small, pre-arranged groups at first. All arrivals will have to undergo a PCR test before boarding their flight to the country, and unless a universal vaccine certificate has been decided upon by then, travellers will have to take an antibody test on arrival to prove that they’ve been fully vaccinated. Vaccinated arrivals into Israel from the UK won’t need to quarantine.
What happens if Israel moves to the amber list?
After May 17, people arriving from amber list countries will have to quarantine for 10 days at home. They will have to take a pre-departure test, then a PCR test on days two and eight, but there will be an option for “test to release” in which they can end self-isolation early if they test negative on day five by purchasing an extra PCR test.
How do I get there?
Since the green list announcement, airlines have been responding to high demand for summer flights to Israel by announcing more frequent routes. From May 17, Wizz Air will relaunch flights to Israel and Virgin Atlantic is planning to increase the number of flights between London and Tel Aviv from four times a week to twice daily.
However, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa are cancelling flights to Tel Aviv this week due to the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine. Keep an eye on the FCDO’s travel advice, which currently advises against all travel to:
– the Sheba’a Farms and Ghajjar
– within 500m of the border with Lebanon (the ‘Blue Line’) east of Metula, including the northern edge of the town and east of Route 98 along the Syrian border