Israel has dropped its ‘red list’ of eight countries under its strict omicron no-fly ban. The move follows a recommendation from Israel’s Health Ministry. Eight countries on the list include the United States, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey.
However, the eight nations will be moved to orange, which requires travelers – regardless of vaccination status – to quarantine for 24 hours on arrival in Israel. The orange list includes countries where the ministry urges Israelis not to travel “without a good reason” due to higher infection rates.
When the omicron variant of COVID-19 was identified in November, Israel joined governments around the world racing to impose travel restrictions and lockdowns in an attempt to contain the new, more transmissible strain. However many scientists expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of border shutdowns and other blanket measures, once the variant is prevalent in a given region.
Israeli Health Ministry’s director-general Nachman Ash said the rise in local omicron infections render travel bans futile in preventing the spread of coronavirus, according to reports in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. As a consequence, the spike in community transmission prompted the Israeli government to lift the travel restrictions.
Omicron has quickly displaced the delta variant as the dominant COVID-19 strain around the world, and it became apparent that closing borders to travel would not be an effective strategy to keep new case numbers from rising.
Image: Tel Aviv Beach Promenade, Photo credit Dana Friedlander, Israel Ministry of Tourism