Israeli Health Ministry Director-General Professor Nachman Ash has announced plans to remove all countries from its coronavirus ‘red list’ from Friday 7 January.
All red list countries will subsequently be reassigned to the government’s ‘orange’ or ‘green’ lists, depending on the severity of their coronavirus status.
The red list banned travel to countries which appeared on it ‘for Israeli citizens and permanent residents, unless they have permission from the Exceptions Committee.’ The move therefore represents a significant easing of travel restrictions in the country.
Under the new rules, Israelis will now be able to travel anywhere in the world, if they are vaccinated. This includes to a wide range of former red list countries including Canada, Ethiopia, France, Mexico, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, the UAE, UK and US.
“The decision to remove all remaining countries from the red list is the right thing to do, since this designation cut off Diaspora Jews from Israel, as well as many others with deep ties to the country, at a time when local spread of the Omicron variant is so high that the rationale for the entry restrictions no longer exists,” said Diaspora Affairs Ministry Nachman Shai.
Easing travel restrictions for international visitors
The news follows previous announcements by the Health Ministry earlier this week which confirmed that fully-vaccinated foreign travellers would be allowed to enter Israel from low-risk countries from 9 January.
As part of the same announcement, it was confirmed that Israeli citizens would also be able to leave quarantine upon return to the country after receiving a negative coronavirus test, rather than having to undergoing a mandatory quarantine period.
Like the decision to scrap the red list, the previous round of restriction easing was driven by an acknowledgement of the prevalence of Omicron within Israel, as well as the protests of Israelis with relatives overseas. Justifying the decision to allow vaccinated foreigners into Israel, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said: “The moment infections are spreading, there is no point in stopping entry from abroad.”