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Journalists from banned COVID countries cannot directly enter Israel

Reporters with work permits who come from 14 off-limits nations must first spend two weeks in another country before being granted entry

Travelers seen in the departure hall at the Ben Gurion International Airport, on July 19, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Travelers seen in the departure hall at the Ben Gurion International Airport, on July 19, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Journalists from countries that Israelis are forbidden to visit due to their high COVID-19 morbidity will not be allowed entry into Israel, the Government Press Office said Sunday.

According to an update from the GPO, any foreign travelers, including journalists, from the 14 banned countries will be denied entry, even if they are fully vaccinated and hold an Israeli work visa. Those countries are currently the UK, Spain, Turkey, Russia, India, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and Cyprus.

In order to enter Israel, journalists from those countries who have been granted an entry permit will have to spend 14 days in another country that does not appear on the banned list before flying to Israel. Foreigners who spend less than 12 hours in the airport of one of the 14 banned countries will be allowed entry.

In addition, the GPO noted, journalists from a list of “high risk” countries — the UAE, Uganda, Seychelles, Guatemala, Honduras, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Liberia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Namibia, Fiji, Panama, Paraguay, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and Kenya — will be allowed entry, but forced to quarantine for seven days.

Like all Israelis or foreigners who enter from those destinations, journalists — including those who are vaccinated — must spend seven days in quarantine after landing in Israel, along with getting two negative COVID tests. Any foreign journalist seeking to enter Israel must first apply for an entry permit. Anyone who enters Israel who was vaccinated outside the country must take a serological test and wait for the results of both that test and a PCR test before exiting quarantine.

Cyprus, Georgia, the UK, and Turkey officially entered the “banned list” on Friday. Israeli citizens who travel to any of the banned countries are to be fined NIS 5,000 ($1,500). Israeli health officials have considered adding more countries to the banned list, as well as mandating seven-day quarantine for arrivals from any foreign destination. New restrictions on air travel are expected to be considered this week.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were 18,407 active COVID cases in Israel, with 368 people hospitalized and 211 in serious condition. On Friday, 2,437 people in Israel tested positive for COVID, a high not seen since early March.

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