On Wednesday, the Health Ministry added seven countries to the ‘red’ list, which mentions countries to where travel is banned, and these include Spain, France, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They are also considering expanding the list to include the United States as well. The other four countries that were added to the list include Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Ireland. Starting Sunday evening, Israelis will not be permitted to fly to any of these countries, as the government attempts to control the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Likewise, foreigners from these countries will also not be permitted to enter Israel.
Under current regulations, all foreigners are banned from entering Israel. Travelers returning from these red countries have to quarantine themselves in state-run hotels until they receive a negative COVID test even if they are fully vaccinated. After this, they are permitted to leave but have to stay in quarantine at home for seven days. The countries that are already on the red list include Denmark, the UK, and most of Africa. The Health Ministry’s decision will be ratified by the cabinet in its meeting on Thursday. It was reported on Wednesday that the Health Ministry was also considering adding Turkey, Portugal, the US, Canada, Morocco, and Hungary to the ‘red’ category in the coming days.
According to the report, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wants to use an aggressive approach where the no-fly list is concerned, which involves adding countries before any serious outbreaks happen there. The cabinet also decided to extend the current travel restrictions, which include requiring all Israelis to quarantine for three days after coming from abroad and a ban on foreigners. These restrictions will now be applicable till December 29th. The only exception that is applicable in the case of foreigners is for first-degree family members of people who are getting married, giving birth, or having a bat or bar mitzvah.
These people have to apply for special entry permits and they can also be turned down. The report on Wednesday also said that the government will permit Jewish heritage trips, including Taglit-Birthright, from next week. On Wednesday, separate announcements were made by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry, Tourism Ministry, and Economy Ministry of a joint proposal for compensating the beleaguered tourism sector of Israel. The restrictions that were implemented because of the Omicron variant have further decimated the sector. Israel had shut its borders within a month after reopening them fully.
This compensation package will provide NIS 30,000 for scholarships and training for employees of the tourism industry who wish to change vocations. Likewise, a monthly stipend of NIS 10,000 would also be given for covering four months of training courses for individuals in the tourism industry who wish to change their career paths. This aid will be applied to travel agents, tour guides, and others who have suffered because of the foreign entry ban in Israel. Hotels that have seen their income drop by 40% or more because of the new restrictions will also be given financial aid.