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Israel to lift omicron travel ban to US, UK

January 6, 2022

Israel's Health Ministry has recommended removing all the countries currently on its omicron no-fly list. The ministry also said Israelis should not travel to places with higher infection rates "without a good reason."

Travelers walk with their luggage outside Ben Gurion International Airport
Israel has reopened to international travelers and will drop a ban a travel to eight countriesImage: DEBBIE HILL/newscom/picture alliance

Israel is set to remove all of the countries currently on its omicron no-fly list of "red" nations on Thursday.

"The Ministry of Health recommends to the government to remove at this stage all countries from the red list," the ministry said in a statement.

After receiving government and parliamentary approval, travel will again be allowed to the United States, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey.

Why lift the travel bans?

Israel had imposed travel restrictions on those countries last month after the discovery of the omicron variant. But experts said the rules are no longer sensible as omicron has spread widely within Israel.

That ban followed a move in late November to bar all foreign tourists. Israel this week said vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries could enter the country.

What Israel can teach others about COVID-19

"Five weeks ago, we closed the State of Israel to entry by foreign nationals," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday. "This greatly delayed the entry of omicron to the country."

Visitors will be allowed to enter Israel on Sunday if they can show a negative COVID-19 test. They will also stay under quarantine until receiving the results of a PCR test conducted in Israel.

What is the current COVID situation in Israel?

The number of reported daily new infections in the country of 9.4 million reached a peak of 16,115 on Thursday.

On Monday, Israel began administering fourth COVID-19 vaccine shots to health workers and people over 60. Some 4.3 million Israelis have received three shots of a coronavirus vaccine, while about 2.8 million people have not received any jabs at all.

"We are going to face thousands and thousands of new cases and the danger that the health care system will be overwhelmed," Nadav Davidovitch, a public health adviser to the Israeli government, told DW, making the case for a fourth vaccination for at-risk people and health care workers. "In the current conditions, we think [a fourth vaccination] is advised."

sms/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)