Israel to close borders to foreigners over new strain of virus

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The government of Israel will close its borders to all foreigners in an attempt to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. 

Israel will become one of the first countries to ban foreign nationals from entering the state for 14 days while waiting for more information regarding the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against the new virus strain, which was first detected in South Africa. According to prime minister Naftali Bennett, pending government approval, the measure should take effect on the evening of November 28, 2021. Such action comes after seven suspected cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in Israel. 

“The entry of foreign nationals into Israel is banned except for cases approved by a special committee,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement. 

In response to the news, Dubai-based carrier Emirates decided to postpone the launch of passenger flights to Tel Aviv (TLV) until further notice. The airline was set to become the third carrier in the UAE to offer direct air connectivity with Tel Aviv after both countries established diplomatic relations in August 2020. The company was due to start a new service on December 6, 2021. 

In a statement, Emirates said: “The postponement comes as a result of recent changes in entry protocols issued by the Israeli government. The airline is committed to launching services to Tel Aviv as soon as the situation allows.” 

Numerous governments across the globe are concerned about the necessity of implementing restrictions for tourists traveling to and from South Africa alongside other countries in the region, after cases of the Omicron variant have now been found in the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Bostwana and Hong Kong. 

Only four weeks passed when Israel reopened its borders to foreign tourists after a prolonged closure due to the virus. 

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