Government to ban Israelis from traveling abroad?

Health Ministry presents new plan to keep coronavirus infection rate low while returning life in Israel to normal.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ben Gurion International airport
Ben Gurion International airport
Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90

In order to keep the coronavirus infection rate low and allow the continued loosening of restrictions next week, Israel's Health Ministry will on Tuesday bring for a government vote a new strategy regarding Israel's borders.

According to a Health Ministry statement, the new strategy will tighten Israel's borders while allowing widescale reopening within Israel. This is in order to preserve the low infection rate within Israel as much as possible, while at the same time preventing the entry of new infections and coronavirus variants from outside Israel.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) has approved the recommendations of Health Ministry professionals, and the recommendations will be presented to the government for approval, the statement added.

Under the new policy, the world's countries will be divided into two groups: Level 1 will include most countries in the world, and the current policy will continue for this group. Level 2 will include high-risk countries, for which the current policies will be made stricter.

Israelis will be completely banned from traveling to Level 2 countries, other than in exceptional cases. Israelis returning from Level 2 countries will be obligated to quarantine, even if they are vaccinated or recovered from coronavirus.

At the same time, foreigners who receive special permits to enter Israel from Level 2 countries will be quarantined in hotels.

Criteria for Level 2 countries will be based on the work of the Center for Knowledge and Information, which was put together for the purpose of creating travel warnings. This includes attention to suspicious or dangerous variants found in a country, as well as the number and amount of coronavirus patients returning to Israel from these countries.

Currently, there are seven countries which meet the Level 2 criteria (the countries for which travel warnings have been issued): Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Turkey.

The list of countries will be updated once every two weeks, in a fashion similar to the previous "green" and "red" ratings. If a country sees an unusual rise in the criteria, it may be upgraded to Level 2 sooner.

The stricter policies will apply to anyone who spent time in a Level 2 country within 14 days prior to arrival in Israel.

The Health Ministry will publish ahead of time the countries which are expected to be moved to Level 2, in order to allow travelers to properly prepare.

"With regards to incoming tourism, the Health Ministry recommends delaying the incoming tourism pilot by one month (until the end of June)," the statement said, adding that "This is due to the spread of coronavirus infections in the rest of the world, and the discovery of new coronavirus variants."

"At the same time, there is great importance in the plan being approved by Israel's government, so that the restrictions can continue to be loosened without risk."

The "incoming tourism pilot" mentioned would allow groups of vaccinated tourists to enter Israel. It is scheduled to begin on May 23, 2021.