“Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Israel,” said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By Josh Plank, World Israel News
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday raised its COVID-19 travel health notice for Israel to “Level 3: High,” one notch below the CDC’s most severe travel rating.
Also on Monday, 2,112 people tested positive for the coronavirus in Israel, the Health Ministry announced.
“Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Israel, West Bank, and Gaza. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Israel, West Bank, and Gaza,” said the CDC.
The agency advised that “all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants,” despite vaccination status.
The announcement came on the heels of an Israeli Health Ministry report last week that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is only 39% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Health Ministry announced that on Monday, 2,112 people tested positive for the coronavirus.
The CDC’s assessment of Israel at “Level 3” marks a significant increase over Israel’s previous status. In June, the CDC had lowered the travel health notice for Israel to “Level 1: Low.”
Also on Monday, the U.S. State Department issued a new travel advisory for Israel, raising the country to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.”
Following the CDC’s new travel recommendations, the U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a COVID-19 alert with updated information for U.S. citizens in Israel.
“U.S. citizens who wish to travel to the United States should arrange for immediate departure to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain in Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza for an indefinite period. The U.S. government has no plans to arrange repatriation flights in Israel at this time,” the embassy said.
In addition to Israel, the CDC on Monday changed its travel rating for Armenia, Eswatini, Isle of Man, Malta, and the Faroe Islands to “Level 3.”
Cuba, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Portugal, and Spain were placed on “Level 4: Very High,” while Barbados, Croatia, Curacao, and Ukraine were changed to “Level 2: Moderate.”
Israel maintains its own list of travel destinations according to COVID-19 risk, with the U.S. currently ranked at the lowest “uncategorized” level.
Israel has declared Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, South Africa, and Uzbekistan as red countries with the highest risk.
Great Britain, Cyprus, Georgia, and Turkey are set to added to the red list on Friday, pending Knesset approval.
Israeli citizens are not allowed to travel to red countries unless they are granted an exemption by the government. Traveling to forbidden destinations in violation of the regulations constitutes a criminal and an administrative offense and carries a fine of 5,000 shekels.