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A high speed train picks up travelers at the Tel Aviv /Jerusalem Ben Gurion International Airport. File photo.

Israel bans citizens from traveling to United States over Covid 

The Israel cabinet on Monday approved a ban on travel to the United States because of concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant. All travel restrictions, including those entering Israel, are scheduled to end December 29.

The Jerusalem Post” reported that the measure needs approval by the Knesset Law and Constitution and Health committees. The measure is expected to take effect at midnight Wednesday.

The cabinet approved the plan to put the United States on Tel Aviv’s travel red list, which means residents only travel there only with special permission. The move is seen as a dramatic step because of the close ties between both countries and the number of dual nationals. The move effectively bars Israelis from visiting the United States

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told reporters that the omicron variant is in the country and said it is “possible to say that the fifth wave has begun.” Israel has, though, experienced no deaths from Omicron and very few serious cases. The data matches that from other nations. Only a handful of people have died around the world leading many to say re-enactment of restrictions is over-reaction.

“Citizens of Israel, if three weeks ago binoculars were necessary to see the wave coming from afar, now it is already here,” he said. In my opinion, in three or four weeks, maybe sooner, we will see a jump in morbidity that will leave no room for doubt. As the government, we are preparing in every aspect.”

The country’s health ministry had recommended the travel ban to the United States, Canada and other European countries. The report pointed out that Tel Aviv had already barred citizens from traveling to France, Ireland and other countries. Reuters reported that the new guidelines take effect Tuesday. Israelis who have already traveled abroad have to quarantine for a week upon their return.

Bennett has faced questions about consistency and drew some criticism because he spoke about travel bans while his wife and children were vacationing in the Maldives.

“Israel: Travel ban on most countries in the world (including Maldives) Also Israel: Prime Minister’s wife and children still in vacation in Maldives. Restrictions are for you the peasants, not for them,” Dr. Eli David, the co-founder of Deep Learning AI Cybersecurity, tweeted.

Metro Voice will be leading a tour of young adults to Israel July 2-11, 2022. The current travel bans will not affect future tour groups or tour planning.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice 

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