“Our countries reacted early and forcefully and now we are in a better position,” one leader said.
By Josh Plank, World Israel News
Israel is among a group of seven countries that are working together in an effort to restore business ties and reinvigorate tourism among themselves after making progress in combating the coronavirus, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The alliance was initiated by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of Austria and also includes Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Greece.
“Our countries reacted early and forcefully and now we are in a better position,” said Kurz.
According to officials, the member countries could all adopt common safety measures such as wearing masks, social distancing, mass testing, and a continued closure of borders to countries where the virus is spreading.
Currently, Israel has barred the entry of all foreigners into the country, and Israelis returning from overseas must enter a two-week quarantine upon arrival.
The countries’ tourism industries have been hit particularly hard by coronavirus closures. By cautiously opening their borders to each other, the group hopes to alleviate some of the economic pain while minimizing the chance of letting in virus carriers.
The report follows an April 24 videoconference in which leaders of the seven countries discussed ways they could work together in dealing with the virus. The meetings are scheduled to take place every two weeks.
According to a statement by the Israeli prime minister’s office, the leaders “discussed ways to advance international cooperation in the struggle against the coronavirus, exchanged ideas and ways in which their countries are dealing with the spread of the virus, raised common dilemmas in reopening the economy and policy regarding the reopening of educational institutions, and discussed ways of protecting at-risk populations in the shadow of the coronavirus.”
At the beginning of the meeting, host Sebastian Kurz said, “I would like to first thank some of you, especially Bibi Netanyahu. I remember in March we had some phone calls and he said to me, well, I think you are not taking the situation serious enough in Europe and especially in Austria and you should do more. And this was something like a wake-up call for me, and then we took some very difficult decisions but I think they were good.”