Israel, five countries mull formation of quarantine-free travel bloc
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Delta announces TA flights restarting

Israel, five countries mull formation of quarantine-free travel bloc

In bid to jumpstart tourism, Greece, Cyprus, the Seychelles, Georgia and Montenegro — all boasting low infection rates — discuss allowing travelers to skip two weeks of isolation

Tourists wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus tours at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on March 5, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Tourists wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus tours at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on March 5, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

As restrictions on international travel are steadily lifted amid a steady drop in the coronavirus infection rate, Israel is considering removing self-isolation requirements for travelers from five countries.

The countries are Greece, Cyprus, the Seychelles, Georgia and Montenegro.

The initiative was discussed at a meeting Tuesday attended by officials from the Health Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Airports Authority, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

The plan, which has not yet received final approval, would have a pilot stage over the summer during which officials would carefully track the effects of an open-border policy from the five nations, all of which have a very low rate of infection for the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talks are also underway with Austria about adding it to the list.

Israel still has a ban on non-citizens entering Israel and requires a 14-day self-isolation for Israelis arriving from abroad.

People wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport on March 10, 2020 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israel took part in a meeting Monday between eight low-infection countries on reopening borders and jumpstarting tourism as the virus recedes. The other countries were Austria, Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, New Zealand and Singapore.

Officials said the danger of reinfection among the nations that participated in the meeting was very low, and lowering barriers to travel would help bring back trade and tourism.

Also Tuesday, Delta Airlines announced on its website it would resume flights between New York and Israel at the start of next month, with face masks mandatory for staff and travelers.

The flights will be “less than daily,” Delta said.

The airline’s first flight to Israel since mid-March will depart from New York’s JFK international Airport on June 3, with a return scheduled for June 6. The flights will operate on Saturday nights, Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays.

Delta planes sitting on the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, November 22, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images via JTA)

Along with the mask requirement, the announcement said that only 50 to 60 percent of the seats will be filled to ensure proper spacing during flights.

United Airlines has been flying to Israel from Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles and San Francisco airports throughout the coronavirus crisis.

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