List of quarantine-free countries to be revealed on Thursday

FM Ashkenazi to meet with Greek FM in hope of striking travel deal, meanwhile the death toll in Israel climbs to nearly 640.

Interior of a passenger airplane (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Interior of a passenger airplane
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Israelis are expected to find out at 4 p.m. today which countries they will be able to travel to and return from without entering quarantine.
The Health, Transportation, Foreign and Tourism ministries are expected to make a joint statement.
Professional discussions were expected to continue until late into the night on Wednesday and resume again Thursday. The goal is to partially open the skies by Sunday, August 16.
Transportation Ministry director-general Ofer Malka told the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee his ministry has submitted an updated list of countries to the Health Ministry from which to allow Israelis to return without isolation, but it had not been approved or finalized. Most of the countries were green, though some were red with lower levels of morbidity, he said.
Among the countries expected to be on the list are Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania and some Greek islands.
Regarding isolation in the countries to which Israelis would be arriving, The Jerusalem Post confirmed that Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, spoke by phone on Wednesday to discuss the option for Israelis to be allowed to travel to some Greek islands without the need to isolate there.
Dendias is expected arrive in Israel on Thursday to meet with Ashkenazi, and the subject will be at the top of their agenda. The details of where and how the visits might work will be hammered out at the meeting.
Ashkenazi is “optimistic” and “hopeful” that a deal will be struck, the Post has learned.
Earlier in the summer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met in Israel and determined that flights to Greece and Cyprus from Israel would resume on August 1. However, as the number of sick people in Israel increased, the decision was delayed.
Most European countries still refuse to admit Israelis because of its high rate of infection.
On Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported that 1,804 people had been diagnosed with coronavirus on Tuesday, plus another 1,003 between midnight and press time. Some 369 infected people were in serious condition. Thirteen people died on Wednesday, bringing the country’s death toll to 639 at press time.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu held a discussion on Wednesday with Education Minister Yoav Gallant, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Finance Minister Israel Katz and National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat to review the details of a plan to open schools on September 1.
“We are doing everything so that the school year opens on September 1,” Netanyahu said. “That is the target date; it will not change.”
While parents and students likely are eagerly awaiting the year and a return to routine, albeit in the shadow of coronavirus, Teachers’ Union head Yaffa Ben-David continued to push back.
“Everyone wants the school year to open as normal, but for that to happen, several problems need to be solved,” she said Wednesday, according to N12. The time has come to solve an ongoing labor dispute between the union and the Finance Ministry, Ben-David reportedly said.
The dispute centers on three issues: how to handle teachers at risk during the coronavirus crisis, pension conditions and sick days for teaching staff.
Coronavirus commissioner Prof. Ronni Gamzu visited Bnei Brak and Jerusalem on Wednesday, areas with high rates of infection, to help them battle the spread of the virus. The visits are part of his “traffic light” program that is meant to support and empower local authorities to handle the coronavirus in their communities.
Jerusalem is the most complex city in Israel, where the coronavirus crisis has been exacerbated by the regular protests on Balfour Street against the prime minister, Gamzu said.
“There are quite a few challenges in the city, and there is also the burden of the demonstrations, which add to the spread of the virus,” he said.
Of the city’s 3,767 residents who have the virus, more than 2,000 are residents of the eastern part of the city, Gamzu said.
In response, Mayor Moshe Lion said: “The figures have a number of explanations: prayers on the Temple Mount and weddings and other mass gatherings [among the haredim (ultra-Orthodox)].”
Some 1,747 Jerusalemites were diagnosed with coronavirus over the past week. There are currently about 600 sick residents isolated in a state-run coronavirus hotel. The rest are being isolated and treated in hospitals or at home.