Israel set to lift ban on travel from Britain at midnight

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Israel set to lift ban on travel from Britain at midnight

Health Ministry officials made the announcement after admitting its red list was not stopping the Omicron variant

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

Travellers exit the coronavirus testing area at Ben Gurion International Airport (Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen)
Travellers exit the coronavirus testing area at Ben Gurion International Airport (Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Israel is to lift its ban on travel to Britain imminently after health officials declared it was having little effect in preventing the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

From midnight on Friday morning Israel will abolish its “red list” of countries it previously declared high risk.

It means that, in addition to the UK, travel to countries including France, Turkey and the United States will be permitted once again.

Canada, South Africa, Spain, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates are among other countries on the red list that will be abolished.

Travellers will still need to take a PCR test before departing for Israel and must quarantine until they receive the results of a second PCR test once they land.

But vaccinated passengers will only need to quarantine for a maximum of 24 hours. Unvaccinated passengers must stay in quarantine for a week.

The announcement was made by Nachman Ash, director-general of Israel’s health ministry, who said new figures showed foreign travellers arriving in Israel were now only making a small contribution to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Officials expect the number of coronavirus infections in the country to reach 50,000 within a week – an Israeli record.

Ash added that besides Omicron, the older Delta variant is also seeing a resurgence, having caused the most serious current hospital cases.

There has been a surge in demand for testing in recent weeks, leading Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz to announce healthy Israelis aged under 60 who have come into contact with virus carriers can leave quarantine if they produce a negative lateral flow test.

A PCR test was previously required, but the new measure is expected to help reduce demand at test sites.

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