Israel Extending Travel Ban for ‘Red’ Coronavirus Countries by Two Weeks

Russia and Argentina to be added to the list

Jonathan Lis
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Travelers at Ben-Gurion International Airport last month.
Travelers at Ben-Gurion International Airport last month.Credit: Hadas Parush
Jonathan Lis

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet announced that it will extend by another two weeks the bans on travel to and from so-called red countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and Israel will be extended for an additional two weeks, until June 13.

The countries now on the list are Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Turkey. On Monday, Russia and Argentina will be added to this list. The cabinet approved a month ago the Health Ministry’s regulations banning Israelis from traveling to the original seven countries on the list.

According to the regulations, people who are not Israeli citizens are allowed to travel to these countries only for the purpose of going to their permanent residence. The travel ban does not apply to those who spend fewer than 12 hours from the time they land in those countries – as long as they remain inside the airport while waiting for a connecting flight.

Countries around the world are divided into two groups – the first includes most countries, and rules concerning them have not changed. The second group includes the high-risk countries. The travel restrictions for these countries were to be made stricter, last month’s Health Ministry statement announced.

The criteria as to which countries are classified as red regarding their COVID-19 situation is based on the findings of Israel’s National Data and Information Center for the War on COVID-19. They includes such factors as the presence of dangerous virus variants and the percentage of those infected with COVID-19 from these countries entering Israel.

A special committee updates the list of countries in the red group every two weeks. If the infection rates rise excessively in a specific country – or the rate of dangerous virus variants increases significantly – such a country can be put on the red list even before the committee meets for the scheduled review.