On Monday, ministers voted to add 10 more countries to the ‘red’ list because of high rates of coronavirus. For the first time, this also includes the addition of the United States to this category. At the beginning of the pandemic, a blanket travel ban had been implemented by Israel and many had believes that it was to avoid singling out the US for imposing restrictions. This was due to concerns that the administration of Donald Trump, who had been president back then, would be offended. The fresh additions that have been made to the no-fly list are awaiting approval by the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset.
Ministers had given their approval for the recommendation of adding countries including Belgium, the United States, Canada, Hungary, Switzerland, Portugal, Morocco, Germany, Turkey and Italy to the no-fly list. This travel ban would come into effect from midnight on Tuesday. In recent days, nine countries had already been added to this ‘red’ list, which included the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, France, Finland, the UK and Sweden. At the start of the month, Israel had added South Africa and a couple of other countries.
If anyone in Israel wants to travel to any of these ‘red’ countries, they would first have to get special permission from a committee established by the government. As for people returning from these countries, they first have to enter quarantine until they get a negative COVID test. They can then leave the state-run hotel and quarantine at home for seven days. Two more ‘coronavirus hotels’ have been approved by Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister, which include one for quarantining travelers. This means that there are now five state-run facilities that are currently being operated. Ministry officials have also been told to prepare for opening of additional hotels.
The cabinet had voted in the previous week to extend the travel restrictions that have been imposed in the country, which include not permitting foreign travelers to enter, along with requiring Israelis returning from abroad to quarantine for three days. These restrictions will now stay in effect till December 29th. The addition of more countries to the red list comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Israel have continued to go up, with about 1,004 new cases being diagnosed on Sunday. This is the highest number of cases to have been recorded since October.
The number of patients in serious condition stood at 81 and 51 of these people were considered critical. The death toll in the country is 8,232. There has also been an increase in the R number, which had climbed to 1.22. This is the virus reproduction number that dictates how many people can be infected by one individual who tests positive and a number higher than 1 means the pandemic is growing. Nitzan Horowitz, the Health Minister of Israel, said that parents have to take responsibility and get their children vaccinated in order to slow the spread of infection, which has been supercharged because of the new Omicron variant.