Israel Considers Barring Travel to U.S. Over Fears of New COVID Variants

YERUSHALAYIM -
Travelers wear protective face masks at Terminal 3 at Ben Gurion International Airport, as Israel restricts air travel more, on Thursday. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)

Israel is considering adding the United States to its list of countries that people are barred from traveling to, Kan News reported Monday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

According to the report, the subject has been frequently raised in recent discussions, but the ministry has not yet come to a decision.

The Health Ministry announced that the United States’ travel status will be re-categorized as “COVID-19 Travel Warning” on Aug. 11, requiring all travelers arriving in Israel from the U.S. to quarantine regardless of vaccination status.

According to Kan, the Health Ministry is debating whether to bar travel to the U.S. over fears of powerful new variants. The report noted that if the U.S. is added to Israel’s list of “red” countries considered as high-risk travel destinations, there may be political consequences – including for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who is slated to fly to Washington soon, though a specific date has not yet been set.

Israel tightened its travel restrictions on Sunday night, barring travel to Bulgaria, Brazil, Georgia, Mexico, Spain and Turkey. Special cases will be reviewed by the exceptions committee.

Additionally, Israel announced that arrivals from only 10 countries will be allowed to enter Israel without requiring extended isolation upon return. Instead, they will only need to isolate for 24 hours or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test.

This list includes Australia, Austria, China, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Hungary, Moldova, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan.