Israel Considering to Almost Completely Open the Sky

YERUSHALAYIM -
Travelers seen at Ben Gurion International Airport, on Dec. 21, 2021. (Flash90)

The omicron variant is spreading rapidly, but this week Israel is considering to open its skies to most foreign countries almost completely. This follows the directive of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, that once the number of  verified people with the coronavirus arriving from abroad reaches 5% of all verified people, the flight ban for most red countries will be lifted and it will be possible to fly there without a special permit.

By all estimates, already this week Israel will probably reach this threshold because the daily verified numbers double themselves every two to three days. “There is going to be mass infection,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said at the Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Currently, the number of countries to which Israelis are banned from flying to stands at 15 and includes the U.S., UAE, Hungary, the U.K., Spain, France, Canada, Switzerland, Portugal and Turkey. It is estimated that the ban on flying to most of these countries will be lifted. A senior Health Ministry official said there may be a handful of countries that will still be banned.

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov demanded at the Cabinet meeting to end the isolation of vaccinated Israelis returning from abroad: “It no longer has any medical value. I expect that just as we will free the Israelis from isolation, and in my opinion it should be this week, we will at the same time allow the return of vaccinated foreigners to Israel, because despite the aid package, the tourism industry and the economy will not be able to continue to bear the burden. For them, every day for the tourism industry is critical. “

Bennett confirmed at the Cabinet meeting that Israel is indeed on the way to reaching the threshold that will lead to the opening of the sky: “It will probably happen this week and we will reach the infection numbers that at the time were said to bring about this change.” He also assumed that the Ministries of Tourism, Home Affairs and Health would meet and formulate the new outline.