Birthright to cancel Israel trips due to new quarantine rules

Previous cancellation of Birthright programs have cost the Israeli economy $200 million.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Citing a new requirement for travelers from the U.S. to quarantine for one week, Taglit-Birthright cancelled the summer’s remaining 42 trips to Israel. All trips scheduled to arrive in Israel after August 10 will be rescheduled.

The quarantine requirement takes effect on Aug. 11. Birthright invited affected participants to reschedule, while acknowledging the uncertainty of when unrestricted travel will resume.

Birthright brings Jews to Israel for free 10-day long heritage trips. Around 80 percent of its participants are from the U.S. and Canada.

Birthright was forced to cancel trips for 14 months as international travel became exceedingly difficult during the coronavirus pandemic, costing the Israeli economy $200 million.

But the trips resumed in May. A Birthright spokesman told Haaretz that 3,900 people managed to visit Israel this year.

Although Israel has only allowed its own nationals to enter the country since March 2020, it made exceptions for certain educational trips, such as Birthright and Masa. Masa trips are organized by the Jewish Agency. Registration was restricted to individuals who are either fully vaccinated or have already recovered from COVID-19.

Since it’s founding in 1999, Birthright has brought more than 750,000 Jewish young adults from 68 countries to Israel. For many participants, Birthright was their first visit to Israel.

Cases of COVID-19 have continued to surge because of the Delta variant. On Monday, the U.S. Center for Disease Control warned Americans against non-essential travel to Israel, Judea and Samaria, or Gaza. The CDC advised that only fully vaccinated people should visit Israel, adding that even those travelers were at risk due to COVID variants.

The Ministry of Health reported 6,275 new cases of COVID on Monday, the highest one-day figure since February.

Overall, Israel is dealing with 35,466 active cases, of which 648 require hospitalization and 394 are serious.