The health ministry on Wednesday added seven countries, including France, Spain and the United Arab Emirates, to its “red” no-fly list, while also considering expanding it further to include the United States. United.
Ireland, Norway, Finland and Sweden were the other four countries added to the list of countries to which Israelis will be banned from flying from Sunday evening, as the government seeks to crack down on the spread of the variant. COVID-19 Omicron.
Foreigners from these countries cannot enter Israel, although current restrictions prohibit virtually all foreigners from entering the country anyway. Those returning from red countries are forced to self-quarantine in state-run hotels until their first COVID test comes back negative, after which they can leave, but must remain in home quarantine for seven days, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The list of red countries already includes the UK, Denmark and most of Africa.
The cabinet will meet on Thursday to ratify the decision of the Ministry of Health.
Channel 12 News reported Wednesday evening that health officials are also considering adding the United States, Portugal, Turkey, Germany, Hungary, Morocco and Canada to the list of red countries in the countries. next days.
The report says Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wants to take an aggressive no-fly list approach, adding locations even before major outbreaks start there.
The cabinet also voted to expand current travel restrictions, including banning foreigners from entering the country and requiring all Israelis to self-quarantine for three days upon entry. The restrictions will now last until at least December 29.
Currently, the only exceptions to the ban on foreigners are for first-degree family members of those who marry, have a bar or bat mitzvah, or give birth to apply. These can apply for special entry permits – which are still sometimes refused.
At the same time, a report claimed on Wednesday that the government had decided to allow the resumption of Taglit-Birthright trips and other Jewish heritage trips next week.
Separately on Wednesday, the prime minister’s office, the tourism ministry, the finance ministry and the economy ministry announced a joint proposal to compensate Israel’s beleaguered tourism sector, which has been further decimated by the restrictions. implemented in the midst of the ramp-up of the Omicron variant. These led to the closure of Israel’s borders to foreign tourists less than a month after their final reopening.
The compensation package includes up to 30,000 NIS ($ 9,557) for training and scholarships for employees in the tourism industry who choose to switch to another occupation, and a monthly stipend of 10,000 NIS (3 $ 186) to cover four months of training courses for those in the tourism industry looking to change career paths.
The assistance will apply to tour guides, travel agents and others who have been negatively affected by the ban on foreigners entering Israel.
Financial assistance will also be given to hotels whose revenues have fallen by more than 40% due to the new restrictions. The ministers also said they would fund 25,000 free tours for residents of Israel to provide 25 million shekels ($ 8 million) to local tour guides.
Those in the tourism industry seeking immediate employment will be offered a monthly salary of NIS 11,000 ($ 3,500) to work as COVID restriction officers in schools or as contact tracers.
Some NIS 60 million ($ 19 million) will be allocated to further reimburse the local tourism industry for marketing activities and staff retention.