Israel Delays Entry for Individual Vaccinated Tourists As Delta Variant Spreads

Israel pushed back plans this week to welcome fully vaccinated tourists amid the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The country was planning to open to fully vaccinated individual tourists on July 1, but has delayed that until at least Aug. 1, USA Today reported. It follows the country's opening to vaccinated tour groups, like Birthright Israel, last month.

The decision comes amid a recent outbreak of the Delta variant, which initially emerged in India, that has threatened the country's progress, forcing officials to re-impose an indoor mask mandate, The Times of Israel reported. Israel has seen more than 100 confirmed cases of the virus recorded for several days in a row.

About half of the adults found to be infected were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"Our goal is to act… and protect the citizens of Israel from the raging Delta strain in the world, so as not to pay a heavier price in the future. In doing so, [we] minimize as much as possible the disruption to the country's routine of life," Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted. "This summer, if you do not have to, I recommend not to go abroad. Go for a walk in the country, and in the meantime it is recommended to go back and wear masks in meetings in closed rooms."

Going forward, all Israelis who travel abroad will be required to sign a declaration promising not to enter high-risk countries, USA Today reported. Additionally, anyone who enters Israel will have to undergo a PCR test.

Israel has inoculated 61.1% of residents with at least one dose of a vaccine and fully vaccinated 56.9% of its population, according to Reuters, which is tracking vaccine progress around the world.

This week, the government expanded its vaccination campaign to include all 12- to 15-year-olds, The WSJ noted.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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