*** May 10, 2022 Update ***
Hi Shiloh 2022 team members! The excavation season is coming up quickly! I am looking forward to seeing many old friends and making new ones. I know that you are all excited about joining the dig team, as well!
There have been a lot of questions about travel requirements and particularly about COVID testing requirements. In the past day or two, I have heard about some upcoming changes to the requirements, and I thought I should fill you all in. Unfortunately, I can’t answer all your questions because the regulations are not quite clear. However, I will do my best.
First, I will try to answer some of the questions that I have been getting. Then, I will provide an outline of required steps.
First, here are links that you will need:
- Entry Requirements for Non-Israeli Citizens – this website has official, up-to-date requirements. This is your ultimate source of information.
- Entry Statement – Fill this out within 48 hours before your departure.
- Guidelines for Returning to the United States – I’m including this since most team members are from the US. If you are from another country, be sure to look up the entry requirements for your country.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Can I take the quick (15 minute) PCR test before departure? Yes. The quick PCR test is acceptable, as is the one that takes 48–36 hours, but make sure that you will get the results back in time, since you must take the test no more than 36 hours before your departure. Make sure to get your passport number on the test results. Starting May 10, the antigen test is also acceptable. See below for more details.
- Can I take my pre-flight COVID test at the airport from which I am departing? Yes, if your airport offers COVID tests, this can be a good option. Make sure that they put your passport number on the test results. Also make sure that the testing location is outside of airport security, and allow enough time to wait for your results. They will not let you check in for your flight, check your luggage, or go through security until you can show them a negative test result. This is true even if you have one or several connecting flights, since they will need to check you all the way through to your destination.
- Do I have to get my passport number on the pre-flight COVID test results? Yes! This is very important. If you get the airport COVID test, they should do this for you. Your doctor might also be willing to do so. Many testing sites do not put your passport number on the test results, so be sure to ask about this in advance and find a place that will include it.
- I heard that they are dropping the COVID test requirement on May 20. Does that include the pre-flight AND the post-flight tests? There has been an announcement that on May 20, they will drop the requirement for a post-flight COVID test in the Tel Aviv airport. The announcement said nothing about the pre-flight COVID test, so there is no reason to assume that they will be dropping that requirement. Currently, you can use either a PCR test or an antigen test for the pre-flight COVID test, but it must be done at a testing center, not at home.
- Should I change money at the airport? You can change money at the airport if you like, but you might not get the best exchange rate. There is a booth in the luggage carousel area where you can exchange dollars for shekels. Alternately, you can find an ATM in the airport and use your debit card to get some shekels. You will probably get a better exchange rate this way. Once you arrive in Jerusalem, there are many places where you can change money, and there are ATMs near the hotel. Many stores and restaurants, especially in Jerusalem, accept dollars and/or credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some shekels on hand for those places that will accept nothing else.
- How do I get to the hotel from the airport?
- The best option is probably to take a sheroot. As you exit the airport and walk down to the road, you will see some sheroots (mini-busses) typically parked to the right of the airport exit. The drivers will be standing around. Ask for one that is going to Jerusalem. Give them the address of the hotel (the Ambassador Boutique, Ibn Abu Taleb Street #5). The driver will not leave until he has a full load, so if you are the first one one, you might have to wait for a while. The driver will plan a route for dropping people off, so if you are one of the last ones dropped off, you will get a tour of Jerusalem on the way to the hotel. I believe that the current cost for a sheroot ride is 65 shekels ($25 US). You should plan to pay in cash, and they usually accept either dollars or shekels.
- Your other option is to take a taxi. This will be quicker and more direct, but also more expensive. It will probably cost around 380 shekels ($120). Make sure to agree on a price with the taxi driver before you leave the airport.
- Do I really need to quarantine for 24 hours? You must quarantine for 24 hours or until you receive a negative test result from the PCR test that you took in the Tel Aviv airport upon arrival, whichever comes first (Note: starting May 20, quarantines might no longer be required). From what I have been hearing, it usually takes 8–10 hours to get the test results, so plan on quarantining at least that long.
- What do I need to do to return home? This depends on the requirements of your home country. See below for more on re-entering the United States. If you are from a different country, please look up the entry requirements for your country.
- What happens if I test positive for COVID before leaving Israel? If you test positive for COVID before leaving Israel, you will not be allowed to board your flight. You will need to quarantine at a government-approved isolation facility until you are recovered. After that, you may return home.
Before Departing for Israel
There are three basic things that you have to get in order before you leave:
- Health insurance that covers the treatment of COVID (If your insurance does specifically state that it covers COVID, I recommend IMGlobal‘s Patriot Platinum International plan. They will provide you with a document for the airport officials that specifically states that you have coverage for COVID).
- The Entry Statement (Fill this as early as possible, but no more than 48 hours before you depart).
- You will need to specify the place where you will quarantine (The Ambassador Boutique Hotel, Ibn Abu Taleb Street #5)
- They will ask for an Israeli phone number. You can give them mine or Scott’s. You can find Scott’s Israeli phone number in the dig packet. NOTE THAT MY PHONE NUMBER IN THE DIG PACKET IS INCORRECT! Please contact me for my current Israeli phone number.
- A COVID test
- Starting May 10, you have two options for pre-flight COVID tests.
- Either take a PCR test (either the one that takes a few days for results or the quick one). YOUR PASSPORT NUMBER MUST BE ON THE TEST RESULTS! You must take the test no more than 72 hours before your departure (if you have a short layover, it can be 72 hours before your initial departure. If your layover is more than 24 hours, it must be no more than 72 hours before your direct flight to Israel).
- Or take an antigen test no more 24 hours before your departure. It must be at an authorized testing center, not an at-home test. YOUR PASSPORT NUMBER MUST BE ON THE TEST RESULTS!
- Starting May 10, you have two options for pre-flight COVID tests.
- You must wear a mask while on your international flight to Israel.
- You must wear a mask while in Tel Aviv airport and until you reach your quarantine location (This may change on May 20 – see below).
- For arrivals before May 20, you must take a PCR COVID test upon arrival at the Tel Aviv airport.
- It is cheaper if you pre-pay for this while filling out your entry statement. Doing so will also save you time in the airport.
- If you are either fully vaccinated (See definition here) or recovered (See definition here) you will get a green pass (They should email it to you). This is not too important at the moment. If you don’t get one, don’t worry about it. NOTE: In order to be considered as recovered, you must have a digitally-verifiable recovery certificate. The US does not issue these, so if you are from the US, you will not have “recovered” status, even if you technically are. You can fill out this form to apply for recovered status if that is important to you.
- You must proceed directly to your place of quarantine (which you will have already specified on your entry statement). You must quarantine there for 24 hours or until your test results come back negative, whichever comes first.
- For arrivals after May 20, the powers that be have decided that there will be no more PCR testing upon arrival in Israel. I do not know if it is 100% certain that this will go into effect, but it sounds very promising. I hope and assume that this also means that you will not have to mask and quarantine upon arrival, either.
- You are allowed to take public transportation from the airport to your quarantine location.
While in Israel
- You are NOT required to wear a mask while in Israel.
- If you are exposed to COVID while in Israel and…
- … you have a Green Pass: You may continue about your business as normal
- … you do not have a Green Pass: You must quarantine. See the guidelines here.
- If you contract COVID while in Israel, you will be taken by ambulance to a government-approved isolation facility until you are recovered.
- Whether or not you need to take a COVID test before departing Israel depends on the country that you are traveling to. For traveling to the United States, you must take either an antigen test or a NAAT test. I have not personally visited a testing center in Israel, but I understand that it is a very easy process to get get a COVID test before departure. Make sure that you use a testing center that offers pre-flight testing, since they will include your passport number on the test results.
- You are NOT required to wear a mask at the airport when you are departing the country.
- You must wear a mask while on your international flight.