Despite vaccinating more than 90% of its population with the Pfizer vaccine, Israel is once again experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases. This is primarily because of the Delta variant, which has proven to be a lot more contagious and seems to be spreading throughout Israel very quickly. Therefore, there has been a re-introduction of coronavirus restrictions in order to slow down the increase in cases. The latest announcement was made in regard to the people coming into Israel from other countries. Late on Sunday, the Health Ministry published updated travel guidelines.
Under the new rules, Israelis returning home as of August 16th will not have to quarantine only if they are coming from 10 countries. Only three of these 10 countries are currently accepting tourists from Israel. The countries were divided by the guidelines into three categories. First off, there are yellow countries that have low COVID rates and people coming from these locations have to isolate for about 24 hours, or until they get a negative test result. Next, there are orange countries that have higher rates of COVID infections. Travelers coming from these countries would be required to isolate themselves for about a week.
The last category is that of red countries and people are barred from traveling there unless an individual is able to obtain special permission from the exemptions committee of the government. Yellow countries include names like New Zealand, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Australia, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Hong Kong, Austria, and Hungary. However, currently, Israeli tourists are only allowed to enter three of these countries, which are Moldova, the Czech Republic, and Austria. Some of the others may permit dual citizens to enter under special circumstances with some restrictions.
As far as red countries are concerned, the list includes names like Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Georgia. All other countries that had previously been on the ban list will now be classified as orange countries, including South Africa and the United Kingdom. Israelis who have not recovered from the coronavirus and are not vaccinated will be required to quarantine, regardless of when and why they return from any of these places. The new policy will be put to debate on Monday by the Knesset’s Constitution Law and Justice Committee.
Until now, health officials and lawmakers were constantly making updates to the list of countries from which travelers are required to quarantine. Therefore, the Health Ministry is hoping that the confusion will be alleviated regarding this matter, thanks to the new policy. But, until August 16th, the list that was updated last week will be applicable. That list has a slew of countries from which travelers have to quarantine, even if they are vaccinated. The new travel rules have been imposed because Israel is facing a surge in cases despite a strong coronavirus campaign.
As of Sunday evening, the total number of active cases in Israel has reached 30,111 and 597 of these patients are hospitalized. 363 of them are in serious conditions, while 50 are on ventilators.