Israeli ministry urges nixing travel ban amid omicron surge
Travellers from the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries should be cleared for landing in Israel, the Health Ministry recommended on Thursday.
The ministry said all countries should be removed from Israel’s “red” no-travel list, including the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey. The decision is one of several rapid changes in policy for Israel as the super-contagious omicron variant sets infection records around the world.
The ministry also recommended relaxing testing requirements for vaccinated and recovering inbound travellers, a day after the government recommended more home tests to ease the burden on testing centres.
The ministry’s recommendations still have to go through a final, legal step, which is a formality, and are expected to go into effect at midnight Thursday.
The moves are a recognition that the variant is infecting more people but apparently not causing more severe illness and deaths, especially among vaccinated people. On Thursday, the government reported another record for new infections, with more than 16,000 recorded a day earlier.
That's despite being a vaccination leader early in the pandemic and the first country to offer a 3rd vaccination, or booster shot. Now, Israel is among the first to begin offering a 4th jab. About 64% of Israel's 9.4 million people have received two vaccinations, and about 46% have received three shots.
Additionally, vaccinated and recovering travelers to Israel can leave quarantine after receiving a negative test result or after 24 hours. Unvaccinated people can leave quarantine after testing negative twice, on landing and after a week of isolation.