Israel has announced that it will ease travel restrictions introduced at the end of 2021 to delay entry of the Omicron Covid variant into the country.
Under the new rules, due to come into effect from Sunday 9 January, fully vaccinated foreign travellers will be allowed to enter Israel again from low-risk countries, reversing restrictions introduced in late November which effectively banned foreign travellers from visiting the country.
However, travel from high-risk ‘red’ countries, such as Canada, Ethiopia, France, Mexico, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, the UAE, UK and US remains heavily restricted. Israel rapidly expanded its red list in December due to concerns about the Omicron variant.
Israeli citizens will now be allowed to leave quarantine upon return to the country after receiving a negative coronavirus test, rather than having to undergoing a mandatory quarantine period.
The move follows vocal criticism of the ban on foreign travellers to Israel from politicians and activists due to concerns about the ability for citizens to visit foreign relatives. The issue was reportedly raised by Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai at a cabinet meeting, at which Prime Minister Naftali Bennett committed to an ‘substantial easing of policies’.
According to Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz during an interview public broadcaster Kan: “The moment infections are spreading, there is no point in stopping entry from abroad.”
UAE announces new travel restrictions
The UAE’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) announced that it will ban unvaccinated UAE citizens from travelling abroad from 10 January.
In addition, vaccinated UAE citizens will be required to receive a Covid booster jab prior to international travel from the same date.
However, the new rules will not apply to individuals who are ‘exempt from taking the vaccine, humanitarian and treatment cases’ according to a tweet by NCEMA.
The decision is due to the new Covid cases worldwide due to the Omicron variant. The UAE has reported 2,556 new cases in the past 24 hours, rising to 767,093 cases since the pandemic began, and one virus-related death, with a total death toll of 2,165.