Israel May Slap a Travel Ban on Its Citizens to The US, Canada

Published December 20th, 2021 - 09:05 GMT
Israel impose travel ban
Lian Azulai, 9, receives a children's dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Hadasim Elementary school in the Israeli town of Tzur Hadassah , southwest of Jerusalem, on December 19, 2021. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)
Highlights
Israeli health ministry recommends adding US, Canada to its Covid 'red list'

Israel is set to slap a travel ban on the US and Canada in an attempt to stop the COVID Omicron variant from spreading there.   

The recommendation comes after it was reported that a recent flight from Miami brought in 17 people who were infected with coronavirus. Most of those infections were caused by the Omicron variant, according to local media. 

The proposed ban would stop Israelis traveling to the US, Canada or any other countries on the so-called red list. Any Israeli passport holders visiting from a banned country would have to isolate on arrival, regardless of vaccination status.

People from banned countries who don't hold an Israeli passport will be forbidden from visiting altogether. 

In order for the recommended travel ban to go into effect, it must be approved by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's cabinet as well as the Knesset - Israeli parliament. 

Barring US travel for Israeli citizens and residents would mark a significant step for Bennett's government, given the hundreds of thousands of dual nationals and close ties between the countries.

Bennett said Israel was in the midst of its fifth wave of Covid-19. Authorities reported 794 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday - slightly above the seven-day average of 754.

The number of deaths reported remained in the single digits.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, more than 1.36 million Israelis have been infected with coronavirus. More than 8,200 have died.

The country’s health ministry has reported at least 134 confirmed cases of the omicron variant since its emergence in late November. 

The Haaretz news site on Sunday said some 17 travelers with the coronavirus arrived on a single flight from Miami, most of them with the Omicron variant. 

'The Omicron variant is already here,' he told a press conference after a cabinet meeting, 'and it's spreading fast.'

Speaking earlier, Bennett reiterated that he would continue to restrict travel in order to avoid further lockdowns.

He said Israel had gained 'precious time' by curbing travel immediately after the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa last month.

'European countries are either in lockdown or are heading that way,' he said, stressing that for Israel 'time is running out.'

Lawmakers on Sunday approved an earlier health ministry recommendation to bar Israeli citizens and residents from travelling to France, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Finland, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.


Britain and Denmark were already on the red list, as was most of Africa.

In addition to the US, the health ministry recommended that Canada, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey be red-listed, guidance that is awaiting approval from the government and lawmakers.

'Our goal is to brave this wave without it affecting the economy and education as much as possible,' he said.

'The way to achieve that is by slowing down the infection rate, and vaccinating Israeli children in the meantime as quickly as possible.'

Ran Balicer, chairman of Israel's national expert panel on Covid-19, told AFP the travel rules were allowing for most life to continue as usual inside Israel.

'The more strict you are in preventing importation and delaying local transmission, the more lax you can be in disturbing the economy and everyday life,' he said.

Balicer estimated that Israel would ease its restrictions once local transmission of Omicron began to rise, reducing the relative proportion of cases coming in from overseas.

He said it was not yet clear if the strain posed a risk of severe illness and death.

More than 4.1 million of Israel's estimated 9.3 million people have received three shots of a coronavirus vaccine, with the country currently giving jabs to children aged 5-11.

citizens and residents who are already abroad when a country is declared red must quarantine for a week after returning home.

Non-resident foreigners from all countries are barred from entry unless they have special permission.

Bennett called on Israelis to work from home and encouraged parents to vaccinate their children.

'Our goal is to brave this wave without it affecting the economy and education as much as possible,' he said.

'The way to achieve that is by slowing down the infection rate, and vaccinating Israeli children in the meantime as quickly as possible.'

Ran Balicer, chairman of Israel's national expert panel on Covid-19, told AFP the travel rules were allowing for most life to continue as usual inside Israel.

'The more strict you are in preventing importation and delaying local transmission, the more lax you can be in disturbing the economy and everyday life,' he said.

Balicer estimated that Israel would ease its restrictions once local transmission of Omicron began to rise, reducing the relative proportion of cases coming in from overseas.

He said it was not yet clear if the strain posed a risk of severe illness and death.

More than 4.1 million of Israel's estimated 9.3 million people have received three shots of a coronavirus vaccine, with the country currently giving jabs to children aged 5-11.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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