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Amid Spike in Cases, Israel Reopens Skies to Vaccinated Tourists

January 7, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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Israeli El Al flight taking off

Friday, 7 January 2022 | Israel is loosening its travel restrictions starting today, a day after the country broke its record with 16,000 new cases of COVID-19, the highest since the start of the pandemic. However, experts argue that few of the cases being spread within Israel came from abroad, and they expect the cases to spread exponentially over the next few weeks—essentially rendering travel restrictions moot in the fight against the oncoming wave.

Israel will do away with its ban on arrivals from “red countries,” including the US, the UK, South Africa and Turkey, Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash announced yesterday.

Though flights from 70 red countries were banned starting at the end of November in a bid to curb the spread of the Omicron variant, Ash explained that health experts predict that the number of new cases will jump so high that travel restrictions will have a negligible impact on the spread.

Israel currently has 72,000 active cases of the virus, and less than 5% of those cases were brought in by travelers arriving from abroad, according to Ash.

In his press briefing yesterday, Ash said the new cases will spread so exponentially that the number will reach 30,000 new cases in three days and 50,000 new cases in a week, the Times of Israel reported.

“We still recommend avoiding unnecessary flights,” Ash told reporters yesterday. “Morbidity is high worldwide and these transitions are a risk factor for infection.”

Nonetheless, the move allows vaccinated Israelis and foreign nationals to enter Israel without a long quarantine—just long enough to get the green light from a negative test.

Posted on January 7, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 7, 2022)

Photo Credit: Edwin Leong/Commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: wikimedia.org

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