Israel's Coronavirus Cabinet will meet Saturday evening to discuss how to prevent the "Omicron" variant, recently discovered in southern Africa, from spreading in Israel.
According to Channel 12 News, the discussion will focus on enacting restrictions on those returning from abroad, and there will be a more specific discussion regarding Dubai, Ethiopia, Frankfurt, and Turkey, since those countries' airports often serve "connection" flights to and from Africa.
Discussions held earlier on Saturday in the Health Ministry and Prime Minister's office indicate that there will likely not be any immediate restrictions for Hanukkah events.
As of now, the intention is to allow such events, while ensuring the Green Pass rules are adhered to and that vaccination booths are set up at large events.
Initial results from the labs examining the new variant are expected to arrive by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Culture Minister Hili Tropper (Blue and White) emphasized that, "The children have paid a heavy price. Right now, there is no reason to enact restrictions within [Israel]."
Closing the airport would buy Israel additional and necessary time to prepare to manage the new variant, but it is not clear that such a move would pass in the current government.
At a Shabbatarbut event (political and cultural forums that take place on the Sabbath) on Saturday, Deputy Defense Minister Alon Schuster (Blue and White) said that the Home Front Command is working to track down 800 Israelis who may have been exposed to the Omicron variant, which is suspected of being much more contagious than the Delta variant.
At the Shabbatarbut event in Mevasseret Zion, Schuster said that the Home Front Command is working quickly to immediately locate these individuals, in the hopes of cutting the chain of potential infections as qucikly as possible.
"The variant which has been discovered is worrisome, and it may be more contagious than its predecessor," he said. "Therefore, we are preparing for it as quickly as possible."