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Fearing Omicron, Israel Extends Travel Restrictions

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel is extending its travel restrictions for an additional 10 days beyond the scheduled expiration date of Dec. 11 as health leaders continue to study the Omicron variant.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz released a statement Thursday night saying they decided to “extend the current restrictions at Ben-Gurion International Airport by an additional 10 days starting from Sunday, 12 December 2021, at midnight.”

Israel has banned non-citizens from entering the country for the past two weeks.

Bennett and Horowitz also agreed to extend requirements that mandate quarantines for all Israelis who return from travel abroad. All Israeli travelers, regardless of their vaccination status, must undergo a PCR test upon arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport and then immediately enter mandatory home quarantine. Fully vaccinated Israelis can shorten their quarantine to three days after receiving a second negative COVID test, and unvaccinated Israelis must remain in quarantine for at least seven days.

Israelis who return from countries on the government’s “red” list – countries where COVID-19 infection rates are high – must take a PCR test at the airport and then immediately enter a state-run quarantine facility.

They will be allowed to leave and transfer to home quarantine after the results of the PCR test are negative.

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The government has also tightened restrictions on the “Green Pass” system. Israelis must show proof of vaccination to enter indoor events where 50 or more people are gathered. Earlier, the restrictions applied to events where 100 or more are gathered. Unvaccinated Israelis must present a negative COVID test to enter.

Bennett and Horowitz “also agreed to discuss evaluating additional restrictions and incentives for vaccination in the coming days.”

Earlier on Thursday, Bennett’s office said he told officials to look into imposing more restrictions on unvaccinated individuals.

Hebrew media reports said the prime minister proposed banning unvaccinated Israelis from leaving the country or ordering them into lockdown. That suggestion reportedly sparked a heated exchange among Horowitz and health officials, who opposed Bennett’s plan.

They called the proposal “unreasonable” and said a lockdown on the unvaccinated amounted to “forced vaccinations,” Ynet news reported.

The extension of travel restrictions came as the number of serious COVID cases in Israel dropped below 100 for the first time since July. Data showed that the majority of serious COIVD cases are among the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated.

Israel has made vaccinations central to its strategy to fight COVID and offers shots to everyone age five and up.

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About The Author


Emily Jones is a multi-media journalist for CBN News in Jerusalem. Before she moved to the Middle East in 2019, she spent years regularly traveling to the region to study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meet with government officials, and raise awareness about Christian persecution. During her college years, Emily served as president of Regent University's Christians United for Israel chapter and spoke alongside world leaders at numerous conferences and events. She is an active member of the Philos Project, an organization that seeks to promote positive Christian engagement with the Middle