Athens to recognize ‘Green Pass,’ letting in visitors without coronavirus tests or isolation; deals with other countries expected soon
Greece will recognize Israel’s “Green Pass” allow vaccinated Israeli tourists into the country without a self-isolation Tourists stand in front of the temple of Hera in ancient Olympia, the place that hosted the ancient Olympic Games, on Monday, March 22, 2021. Greece’s government reopened the ancient sites nationwide after four months as it prepares to restart the tourism season in mid-May.
The new policy is set to take effect Tuesday, and will include a weekly cap of 10,000 Israelis entering Greece per week.
Israel has gradually reopened in recent months amid its world-leading vaccination campaign and decreasing morbidity, but health officials have warned that international travel could introduce dangerous new virus variants.
On Sunday, entry restrictions were eased at Ben Gurion Airport, after the High Court of Justice ruled a government-imposed cap of 3,000 returning citizens per day disproportionately violated civil rights due to its sweeping and extended nature, as well as the proximity to the March 23 elections.
Israel’s land and air gateways had been largely closed since January 25, leaving thousands unable to return, in an effort to prevent the potential arrival of coronavirus variants.
Israel has established a domestic “Green Pass” system that allows people who have been vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus to participate in various activities, including indoor dining, shows and sports events.
The EU, which lags far behind Israel in its vaccination rate, is preparing a similar measure.
The agreement with Greece has been in the works for a short while, and Israel is expected to reach deals soon with other countries for mutual recognition of vaccinations and admission of vaccinated tourists.
Among the countries expected to recognize Israel’s “Green Pass” are the Arab states that Israel established diplomatic relations with last year — Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.
Russia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Thailand and some other states, from the EU, are also expected to allow in vaccinated Israelis, Channel 12 reported earlier this month.
Earlier Monday, reports said Israel will also open up the Taba Crossing on the Egypt border, allowing some 350 tourists to visit the Sinai per day.
The report did not provide a timeframe for when international travel could resume.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously discussed adopting green passports to allow mutual travel between countries with other national leaders including Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban.
Greece and Cyrpus already have vaccination passports specifically for travel to and from Israel, although Israel remains largely closed to non-citizens.
According to a February report by Army Radio, Israel was also negotiating with the UK for a deal to allow vaccinated tourists to travel between the countries, as well as with Estonia.
Cover photo: Tourists stand in front of the temple of Hera in ancient Olympia, the place that hosted the ancient Olympic Games, on Monday, March 22, 2021. Greece’s government reopened the ancient sites nationwide after four months as it prepares to restart the tourism season in mid-May. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)