Israel, Bahrain reach deal to recognize vaccine certificates

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry says latest deal represents global precedent for bilateral agreement on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates.

JERUSALEM - Israel and Bahrain say they have reached an agreement to recognize each other’s coronavirus vaccination certificates, allowing travellers between the countries to forgo quarantine and other restrictions.

The agreement builds on a US-brokered normalization accord reached last year and marks a further improvement of ties between Israel and the small Arab country in the Persian Gulf.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday that the latest deal “represents a global precedent for a bilateral agreement on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates.”

Israeli Tourism Minister Orit Farkash Hacohen welcomed the agreement in a tweet, calling it “an important step in Israel’s reopening to tourists.” She said she looked forward to hosting her Bahraini counterpart again and invited him to go diving in Eilat, on the Red Sea.

Israel has carried out one of the most effective vaccination campaigns in the world, leading to a sharp drop in infections and allowing it to reopen schools and businesses, including restaurants, hotels and museums.

But it remains largely closed off to international visitors. Israel plans to allow a limited number of tour groups to enter starting May 23, with individuals allowed at a later stage. All visitors will need to be tested before boarding flights to Israel and show proof of vaccination.