Israel to ban travel to the U.S., Canada and 8 other countries over Omicron variant

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett adjusts his mask as he attends a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday.
(Abir Sultan / Pool Photo)

Israeli government ministers Monday agreed to ban travel to the United States, Canada and eight other countries amid the rapid global spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office announced the decision following a Cabinet vote.

The rare move to red-list the U.S. comes amid rising coronavirus infections in Israel and marks a change to pandemic practices between the two nations, which have close diplomatic ties. The U.S. will join a growing list of European countries and other destinations to which Israelis are barred from traveling, and from which returning travelers must remain in quarantine.

A parliamentary committee is expected to give the measure final approval. Once authorized, the travel ban will take effect at midnight Tuesday night.


Israel has seen a surge in new cases of the more infectious Omicron variant in recent weeks, and began closing its borders and restricting travel in late November. Foreign nationals are not allowed to enter, and all Israelis arriving from overseas are required to quarantine, including people who are vaccinated.

Other countries that were approved to be added to the travel ban starting Tuesday night are Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey.

Some experts think it would help to make some adjustments, but many health experts are also emphasizing the importance of seeing family and friends.

Dec. 18, 2021

Israel rolled out a world-leading COVID-19 vaccination campaign early this year, and more than 4.1 million of Israel’s 9.3 million people have received a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

In a prime-time address on Sunday, Bennett urged parents to vaccinate their children, declaring that the country’s fifth wave of coronavirus infections had begun. As of Sunday, the Israeli Health Ministry had reported 175 cases of the Omicron variant.

Israel has recorded at least 8,232 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.