Italy shortens quarantine for Israeli travelers

Citing virus, CDC warns against travel to Israel, alongside West Bank and Gaza

US health body lumps together Israeli and Palestinian territories in travel advisory, despite COVID-19 spread tapering off in the Jewish state

Medical technicians test passengers for the coronavirus at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)
Medical technicians test passengers for the coronavirus at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)

The US Centers for Disease Control claimed Monday that there is a “very high level” of coronavirus infection in Israel, when considering it as a single unified entity with the West Bank and Gaza, and urged Americans to avoid travel to all three areas.

“Very High Level of COVID-19 in Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza,” the CDC said in a travel advisory, urging even fully vaccinated Americans to avoid those areas.

Israel’s coronavirus numbers are, in fact, quite different from those of the West Bank or Gaza, and its daily new cases have plummeted. Israel made vaccines available for all citizens over the age of 16 in the country, and has gone on to inoculate over half the population, but has disputed the claim that it is responsible for vaccinating the Palestinians.

It has given a limited amount of vaccines to Palestinians, including vaccinating many Palestinians who have permits to work in Israel. In general, the vaccination campaigns in the West Bank and Gaza have been much slower than Israel’s.

Passengers at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 8, 2021. (Flash90)

There were 5,232 active coronavirus cases in Israel as of Monday morning, the lowest number since June 2020. The country has largely reopened its economy, starting a gradual process in February. Cultural venues, restaurants, shopping centers, gyms and sporting venues have all reopened — some with certain restrictions.

Meanwhile, virus cases among the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza remain high.

Non-Israelis are generally not being allowed into the country, with humanitarian exceptions, rendering the CDC advisory mostly moot.

Separately on Monday, Italy said it will allow passengers from the United Kingdom, Austria and Israel to undergo a shorter, five-day quarantine on entering the country under new regulations that take effect on Tuesday.

From April 7-30, these travelers can forgo a two-week quarantine to enter Italy.

The three countries were included in a list of over 30 countries, most in the European Union, in which the mandatory quarantine is shortened to five days from 14.

The new rules reflect, in part, the progress of vaccination campaigns in Israel and Britain.

People from countries on the list still have to submit a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours of arrival in Italy, and take a second test following their five-day quarantine.

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