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Health Ministry promises to widen travel exemptions after MK’s threat

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)

The Health Ministry promises to widen the exemptions to current air travel restrictions after the chairman of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee threatened to overturn the current rules.

At a hearing of the committee, Labor MK and chairman Gilad Kariv says the current situation is intolerable — in which Israelis are banned from travel to more than a dozen countries — and calls for immediate changes.

In response, the ministry promises to expand the ability of Israelis to apply for an exception to the ban for pressing work in so-called “red” countries as well for a significant life event of a first-degree relative, including a wedding or bar mitzvah.

The head of Israel’s border authority also promises that a special mailbox will be set up to deal with humanitarian needs of those applying for exceptions who do not receive speedy responses.

After the agreed-to easing of restrictions, Kariv and the committee vote to extend the current regulations through January 5 — including the ban on tourist entry — and to remove dozens of countries from the “red” list beginning at midnight tonight, but to add Mexico.

Travel will still be banned to the US, UK, Canada, France, South Africa and several other countries. Israelis who return from such countries are mandated to spend a week in quarantine with two negative tests even if they are fully vaccinated with a booster.

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