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Health minister: Travel ban could be lifted next week

Travelers seen at the Ben Gurion International Airport on December 22, 2021. (Flash90)
Travelers seen at the Ben Gurion International Airport on December 22, 2021. (Flash90)

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz says that severe restrictions on Israeli travel could be lifted as soon as next week.

“I have always been in favor of opening the skies, because we’re part of the world and it’s complicated to close the skies,” Horowitz tells the Kan public broadcaster. “I don’t know if it will happen at the end of this week, maybe a few days later, but it won’t be much longer.”

He says the reversal will likely come when Omicron is spread largely through communal spread, and not from those returning from abroad.

Currently, 68 countries are listed as “red” countries — including the US, UK, France, Germany, and many more — and Israelis are forbidden to travel to them without explicit permission from the exceptions committee.

Israel has so far recorded 1,118 cases of the Omicron COVID variant, and more than 700 were in those recently returning from abroad.

The demand for those returning from abroad to quarantine for seven days with two negative tests is expected to remain in place, even once restrictions are eased. Entry to even fully vaccinated tourists is not currently under discussion for the short-term future.

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