Senior Health Official: Too Soon to Talk About Lifting Travel Ban

YERUSHALAYIM -
Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Health Nachman Ash. (FLASH90)

Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash has downplayed the prospect of soon lifting the ban on foreign travelers due to the Omicron variant.

Ash said on Monday evening that it’s too soon to say.

“There isn’t enough information yet to change the restrictions,” Ash told Channel 12 news. “We still don’t know if this variant will stand up to the vaccines.”

Ash added that the Health Ministry and other Israeli officials will “have to wait a few more days, and more data will come,” before making any decisions on changes.

Earlier on Monday, Yisrael Hayom reported that Israel is unlikely to extend its two-week ban on foreigners entering the country, quoting sources involved in the matter. If this indeed happens, tourists will be able to travel to Israel as soon as the ban ends on Sunday evening.

On Nov. 27, the government issued the ban in an effort to curb the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. Officials also added 50 African countries onto its no-fly list and mandated extra-stringent self-isolation for all Israelis returning from so-called “red” or “orange” countries, including vaccinated individuals.

According to sources, if vaccines prove to be effective against the new strain, Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov will request the removal of the ban before the end of the two weeks.

MKs were expected to convene on the matter on Monday evening.