By Erin Viner
Israelis will be forbidden to visit the United States, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Canada, Switzerland and Turkey beginning midnight 21 December, following Cabinet vote subject to expected approval by the Knesset Constitution, Justice and Law Committee.
Announcing the move in a public statement, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that the “precious time” bought by his government’s “important and brave decision” to ban the entry of foreign nations 3 weeks ago is now “running out,” with the fast spread of Omicron “from the Knesset to kindergartens.”
Israelis are now barred from visiting 50 countries, most of which are in Africa but include the United Kingdom, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Finland, France and Sweden. Exceptions are only possible with the granting of special permission from a specialized government committee.
Citizens returning from any of the red-listed countries must observe 3 to 7 days of self-isolation. So far, only around 400 Israelis are suspected of carrying Omicron.
The nation is now at the start of the 5th coronavirus wave said Prime Minister Bennett, due to the doubling of the strain every 2 to 3 days.
“I am not saying this to shock and cause panic. We have passed that stage. We are all experienced in the four previous waves. I also identify a certain fatigue among the public; this is understandable and natural. It is for this reason that we must act rationally and calmly, and do the right thing,” said Bennett, underscoring that, “Our goal is to overcome this wave while continuing economic activity and education as much as we can.”
Urging the public to get booster shots, vaccinate children, work from home if possible and “exercise common sense” with the maintenance of social distancing and wearing masks, the Israeli leader said the new stage will also mandate new directives that will be released soon.