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An El Al Dreamliner in Washington. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Israel Bans International Flights to Stop COVID-19 Spread

Israel is the country that is doing the best in its vaccination process. According to Oxford University, Israel had administered vaccination doses to more than 40% of its population by Jan. 24. Those numbers are nearly double the second country in the list, the United Arab Emirates with 25%, and are quite ahead of the United Kingdom’s 10% in the third position. To protect that vaccination program, the Israeli government has imposed new movement restrictions measures banning all international flights for the next week.

This new restriction took effect on midnight between Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 and will last, at least, until next Sunday, Jan. 31. For these days, no international flight will be allowed in Israel, with the only exemption being cargo and special services delivered by air. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, confirmed that these new measures were adopted to protect the national vaccination program: “We are closing our skies, unless some special exemptions, to prevent the entrance of the new strains in our country and make sure that we can rapidly move forward with our vaccination campaign.”

Israel is still in its third lockdown, which began back in December and has been extended until the end of January. The Israeli Health Minister confirmed that they have identified several cases of the British and the South African coronavirus variants and have discovered a new case that originated in Los Angeles, United States, of one of these variants.

“In the health ministry’s central virus laboratory, a variant from Los Angeles has been located using a sequencing process. The person confirmed to have this variant has infected four other people,” the minister said.

New Strains Leading to New Restrictions

Israel has not been the first country to impose movement restrictions with other countries due to the new COVID-19 strains. Back in December, many countries in Europe banned all international flights with the United Kingdom, and now many others are doing the same with Brazil and South Africa. Further, more and more countries are requiring international passengers to provide a negative PCR test result prior to their arrival and then to self-isolate for 14 days to avoid the spread of the virus. The last one to do it was the United States, which recently approved those measures at the beginning of the new Biden administration.

Some countries are thinking on even stronger measures, such as requesting international passengers to quarantine at hotels at their own expense. Canada and the United Kingdom have been some of those countries.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, advised this a few days ago: “No one should be taking a vacation abroad right now. If you’ve got one planned, cancel it. And don’t book a trip for spring break.”

While many countries are advancing on their vaccination programs and the end of this pandemic is now closer than ever, there is still a long way to go until we go back to the old normality.

Arturo Higueras
Latest posts by Arturo Higueras (see all)
Arturo Higueras
Latest posts by Arturo Higueras (see all)
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