Israeli ministers agreed on Monday to ban travel to the US, Canada and eight other countries as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly around the world.
The office of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the decision after a vote by the cabinet.
The rare move to the U.S.’s red-listed event comes with an increase in coronavirus infections in Israel and marks a shift in pandemic practices between the two nations with close diplomatic relations. The U.S. will join a growing list of European countries and other destinations where Israelis are banned from traveling and from which returning travelers must remain in quarantine.
The measure is expected to be finally approved by a parliamentary committee. Once banned, the ban will take effect at midnight on Wednesday.
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In Israel, the number of new strains of the more contagious coronavirus has increased in recent weeks, and borders began to be closed and travel restricted in late November. Foreign nationals are not allowed to enter, and all Israelis from abroad must be quarantined _ including people who have been vaccinated.
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Other countries that have been banned from traveling since Wednesday are Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey.
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Israel launched the world’s leading vaccination campaign earlier this year, with more than 4.1 million of Israel’s 9.3 million people receiving a third dose of Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.
Addressing Israel’s prime minister on Sunday, Naphtali Bennett urged parents to vaccinate their children and announced the country’s “fifth wave of coronavirus infections.” On Sunday, the Israeli Ministry of Health reported 175 cases of the new option.
At least 8,232 people have died from coronavirus in Israel since the pandemic began.
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