Speed Reads

Omicron Rising

Israel unveils plan to ban travel to and from U.S., Canada, 8 other countries amid Omicron surge

Israel's government announced Monday that it will ban travel to and from the U.S., Canada, and eight other countries, mostly in Europe, amid the rapid global spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office said the Cabinet had approved the ban, and a parliamentary committee is expected to give the measure final approval, making it effective Wednesday. 

Israel started to seal its borders as cases started to rise in late November, and Bennett said Sunday that a "fifth wave" of COVID-19 had begun. Israel is one of the most vaccinated nations in the world, mostly with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and it approved booster shots before most other countries. But cutting off travel with the U.S. is a rare move for Israel to take. The other eight countries on the no-travel list are Belgium, German, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Hungary, Turkey, and Morocco.