Israel makes it easier for diaspora relatives to attend simchahs

Covid-19 restrictions on travel were eased on Sunday


The Israeli government has eased its Covid-19 restrictions on the arrival of foreign citizens, meaning that it is now possible for British Jews to travel there for family events – with the caveat that they still need to undergo a 14-day quarantine on arrival.

It will now be easier for relatives who want to attend simchahs, births and funerals to travel to Israel. The easing of the restrictions also applies to spouses and children of Israelis.

Israel was one of the first countries to start emigration restrictions due to the pandemic, beginning with blocking all non-Israelis arriving from China at the end of January and, by mid-March, closing the country entirely to all non-Israeli arrivals.

Since then, there have been exemptions, mainly for non-Israelis working in Israel returning to the country and, more recently, also for diaspora Jews arriving to take part in educational programmes.

On Sunday the Population and Emigration Authority published a new set of guidelines in response to growing demand from diaspora communities. 

Under the new guidelines, non-Israelis with Israeli partners living in the country and their children will be automatically allowed to enter the country. Those whose Israeli partners or parents are not currently residing full-time in Israel will need to apply in advance for an entry permit. 

Non-Israelis who are first-degree relatives of anyone getting married, or having a bar- or batmitzvah, can also now apply for an entry permit, through the consular services of their local Israeli diplomatic representative. The same applies to their partners, as well as grandparents of those having the simchah.

Prospective grandparents may also apply to be in Israel up to a month before the due-date, and a month after the birth. First-degree relatives will also be allowed to apply for arrival for a funeral, though this is unlikely to happen as most funerals in Israel take place soon after death. 

Another unique exemption for non-Israelis is for parents, siblings and partners of “lone soldiers” serving in the IDF. 

The new guidelines are also supposed to streamline the process for non-Israelis studying or working in Israel. 

A number of airlines have already resumed their flights to Ben-Gurion Airport, including from Britain, Easyjet and Wizzair.

El Al, however, has stopped flying for the past two weeks, and until the uncertainty regarding the company’s future ownership is resolved, is not expected to resume. 

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