Israel mulls ban on all leisure travel as COVID-19 cases spike again

Jul 19, 2021

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Despite having more than 63 percent of its residents with at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, Israel is concerned enough about the uptick in new cases that it is discussing a major new crackdown on travel.

One of the more extreme options being considered is a ban on all non-essential travel out of the countries primary airport, Ben Gurion Airport (TLV).

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The Israeli Health Ministry reports that 10 percent of all recent cases are related to people returning from overseas travel. An Israeli television news report said the government is looking at a number of possibilities to help curtail the spread of new COVID cases. One is to require mandatory 7-day quarantine for all returning travelers, and also to only allow fully-vaccinated people, or those recovered from COVID-19 to travel.

Related: Israel to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists from May 23

Israel’s updated guidelines will now require all arrivals from 15 countries deemed to have high infection rates to quarantine for seven days with a negative test result. The countries are:

  • United Arab Emirates
  • Seychelles
  • Ecuador
  • Ethiopia
  • Bolivia
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Zimbabwe
  • Zambia
  • Namibia
  • Paraguay
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Tunisia

As of Friday, July 23, the following countries will be added to the list: the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Turkey, Georgia, Uganda, Myanmar, Fiji, Panama, Cambodia, Kenya, and Liberia.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has urged Israelis not to travel this summer. Despite this request, 22,000 people flew out of Ben Gurion Airport in a single day on 18 July.

Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, and was held up as a gold standard for its rapid vaccine rollout plan. The fact that it is considering implementing new protocols shows the level of concern about a possible new surge, which is due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

If they resume limiting travel, it stands to reason other countries could follow suit to try and prevent another coronavirus surge.

Featured image by Xantana/Getty Images

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