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Israel Reopens Skies to All Countries Amid Omicron Surge

Photo Credit: CBN News/Jonathan Goff
Photo Credit: CBN News/Jonathan Goff

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Israel has reopened its skies to international travel. 

Israel imposed a travel ban in November to keep the Omicron variant out of the country. Government leaders credited the ban with helping Israel prepare for a major outbreak, but now that COVID cases are soaring again, Health Ministry leaders believe the measure is unnecessary.

On Thursday, the Health Ministry recommended removing all remaining countries from Israel’s “red” no-fly list, including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey.

That means Israelis will be allowed to travel anywhere without the need to receive special permission from the government first. Foreign nationals will also be allowed to enter, provided that they are fully vaccinated.

Health leaders also recommended easing testing requirements for vaccinated and recovered inbound travelers, allowing them to leave isolation after receiving a negative test result upon arrival or after 24 hours. Unvaccinated Israeli travelers can leave quarantine after receiving two negative tests – one after entering the country and another after a week of isolation.

Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash told Israeli media that less than 5 percent of Israel’s 72,000 active came from abroad, rendering the travel ban useless.

On Thursday, the government said more than 16,000 new infections were recorded a day earlier, a new record.

As case numbers continue to rise, Israel is hoping to beat Omicron by making available an extra booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to those most at risk. Israel has made the fourth dose available to immunocompromised individuals, people over 60, and healthcare workers.

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