Israel Considers Barring Travel to the United States Over Fears of New COVID Variants

Israeli health officials debate whether to add the U.S. to its growing list of COVID 'high risk' travel destinations, though the decision may have political ramifications

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Travelers head to get COVID-19 tests after arriving in Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, Israel, last week.
Travelers head to get COVID-19 tests after arriving in Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, Israel, last week.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Israel is considering adding the United States to its list of countries barred from travelling, the public broadcaster Kan 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.

>> Israel to require arrivals from all but 10 countries to go into quarantine

The Health Ministry announced that the United State's travel status will be re-categorized as "COVID-19 Travel Warning" on August 11, requiring all travelers arriving in Israel from it 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 broadcaster notes 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 last 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.

The new regulations are slated to come into effect on August 16, pending approval by a Knesset panel.

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