Bennett Planning on Urging the Cabinet to Extend the No-fly List

According to reports on Friday, the Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett plans on urging the cabinet to expand the country’s no-fly list to include most of the world. The premier wants to add Canada as well as the United States to the ‘red’ category in a move to prevent the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus from spreading. However, it is likely that Bennett will have to put up with a great deal of opposition from the ministers to such drastic moves. Nitzan Horowitz, the Health Minister, is aiming for a more measured plan. On Friday, Bennett had spoken to a team of advisers and said that ministers voting against this plan would be responsible for the outbreak. 

He said that he wanted the ministers to understand how serious the situation is and to not give in to the pressure from lobbyists, or the public. This week, nine more countries were added to the ‘red’ list by Israel, which were Spain, the UK, France, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Ireland. Those who wish to travel to ‘red’ list countries will first have to reach out to a government committee for obtaining special permission. Israelis returning from these red countries are also required to enter into quarantine until their first test gives a negative result. 

They have to stay in state-run hotels until the test result, after which they are permitted to leave, but are required to quarantine for an additional seven days. This is also applicable to fully vaccinated individuals. On Thursday, the cabinet had voted in favor of extending the existing travel restrictions, which include the ban on tourists entering Israel, along with the requirement for all Israeli travelers to quarantine for three days. These restrictions will now stay in effect till December 29th

However, it is important to note that if the widespread ban is imposed, it would only last if Israel does manage to keep the Omicron variant from spreading locally. The latest coronavirus figures shared by the Health Ministry on Friday showed that there were 838 new cases diagnosed on Thursday, which is the highest number seen in two months. This number was higher than that of Wednesday by 181 cases, and it highlighted that the pandemic was once more on an upward trajectory. According to the ministry, 45 new cases had been of the Omicron variant, which has brought the total number of the variant’s cases to 134. 

Most of the Omicron variant cases have been identified in people returning from abroad. There were a further 207 cases that are still waiting for confirmation. The latest numbers also indicate that the ‘R’ number, which is the virus’s reproduction number, has now reached 1.07. Any number that’s over 1 indicates that the pandemic is spreading. Even though it is believed that the Omicron variant is the most infectious one to have been identified as yet, it is not clear if it is also more dangerous. As a matter of fact, some data indicate that it might be milder than the other variants. 

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