Israel Weighs Restrictions on International Travel Over COVID Delta Fears, Source Says

Minister publicly says 'closing the skies' hasn't been considered, while other cabinet members claim they are unaware of plans for it

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Passengers at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Sunday.
Passengers at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Sunday. Credit: Hadas Parush
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Israeli government is considering restricting travel abroad in light of the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, a government source told Haaretz on Sunday. Officials sharply denied that this was under consideration, however.

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"No one has suggested closing the skies, we are totally not at that point," Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev told Channel 13 News on Sunday. Bar-Lev said that the government is warning the public about the addition of countries to the list of countries to which no flights are allowed to give people the chance to cancel or change their flights. "The whole idea is to allow the citizens of Israel to live alongside the coronavirus," Bar-Lev said, adding that there are no plans to stop flights abroad, "certainly not essential flights" Other ministries, including the Health Ministry, said Saturday that they were unaware of flight restrictions being considered.

Also Sunday, Nachman Ash, the director-general of the Health Ministry, said that it was not the time for non-essential travel abroad, and that international travel risked bringing in new variants.

In March, the High Court of Justice ruled that restrictions on leaving the country for those who had not been vaccinated or recovered were unconstitutional, as was the quota of 3,000 people allowed in to the country a day. In its decision, the panel of judges said that should the government again seek to place restrictions on entry to and departure from Israel, it must base them on a comprehensive, up-to-date review of the situation.

The countries to which Israelis are currently not allowed to fly are Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and Uzbekistan. Several other countries are on a list of countries that require a mandatory one-week quarantine upon return, including the United Kingdom and Turkey.

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