Israel lifts COVID-19 travel ban on most states, US and Canada remain

The Health Ministry removed dozens of states from the COVID-19 no-fly list, including the majority of African nations and Italy, Ireland and more.

 Travelers at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on September 6, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Travelers at the Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on September 6, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Health Ministry’s committee for classifying states has recommended that the list of countries to which Israelis are banned from traveling be reduced, but has added Mexico and left the United States and Canada.

The decision to change the list would take effect on December 30 at midnight - the night between Wednesday and Thursday, pending approval by the government and the Knesset. 

If passed, the list of red states would be Mexico, US, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Hungary, South Africa, Nigeria, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. 

At the same time, the ministry removed the rest of the 69 countries that were on the list, including the majority of African nations and Italy, Ireland, Germany and more. These countries join a list of orange countries to which there is a severe traveling warning but no ban.

The Health Ministry recommends Israelis not travel at all. 

 Travelers seen at the Ben Gurion International Airport, on December 22, 2021. (credit: FLASH90) Travelers seen at the Ben Gurion International Airport, on December 22, 2021. (credit: FLASH90)

Israelis who return to Israel from red countries are required to be quarantined for a full seven days, including taking two PCR tests - one on the first day and one on day seven. Vaccinated Israelis can be isolated at home from the first day, whereas unvaccinated individuals must first check-in to a coronavirus hotel and can only leave when they receive a negative PCR test result. 

Returning from an orange country requires three days of isolation for people who are fully vaccinated or recovered within the last six months, including two negative test results on days one and three. 

Unvaccinated Israelis still require seven days no matter where they go.

All foreigners remain banned from entering Israel, although Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said on Sunday that the ministry is considering lifting this ban within the next week. It will also likely remove the red state designation, as once Omicron is dominant in the country, there will be no epidemiological basis for this classification.