Israel’s Health Ministry calls for tough new travel rules, including keeping Israelis in

It’s not just the movement of foreigners the Health Ministry wants to restrict.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As Israel celebrates the lifting of more coronavirus restrictions, its Health Ministry is gearing up to introduce new limits on international travel aimed at protecting the Jewish State’s return to near post-pandemic normalcy.

With fear of corona variants behind the move, the Health Ministry recommendations imposing additional restrictions on flights to and from Israel will be presented for governmental approval.

The fear is particularly strong regarding India, which is in crisis with reports of more than 2,000 dead a day from the disease. The number of confirmed corona cases arriving from India to Israel is particularly high at 6.8%.

According to the Health Ministry’s plan, countries will be divided into two categories depending on their infection rates: Level 1 and Level 2.

Flights from Level 1 countries will continue under current guidelines, which require Israeli citizens returning from those countries to present a negative coronavirus test before boarding, as well as undergo a coronavirus test upon landing in Israel.

Flights from level 2 countries will no longer be permitted. Israelis will also be forbidden to travel to those nations, save for exceptional circumstances.

Ukraine, Ethiopia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Turkey will be classed as Level 2, but more countries may be added to the list in the coming days.

Additionally, Israelis who have visited Level 2 countries in the past two weeks will be forced to quarantine, even if they are already vaccinated or recovered from the virus.

Foreigners who arrive in Israel from Level 2 countries will be required to enter quarantine in state-run hotels.

Additionally, the Health Ministry is recommending that the so-called “incoming tourist pilot program” be pushed back by at least one month. “This is due to the spread of coronavirus infections in the rest of the world, and the discovery of new coronavirus variants,” the ministry said in a statement.

Originally slated to begin May 23, the initiative aimed at reviving Israel’s floundering tourism industry and allowed for groups of fully vaccinated and recovered tourists.

The program had imposed somewhat intrusive restrictions on potential visitors, including a serological blood test upon landing in Israel to prove tourists have coronavirus antibodies.

Before flying to Israel, tourists would also need to present proof of vaccination or recovery, a negative coronavirus test before flying, and undergo another coronavirus test upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport.