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Israel to admit some foreigners with presumed COVID-19 immunity

Israel said on Monday it will admit foreigners with presumed COVID-19 immunity from countries deemed medium-risk as of January 9, partially reversing a ban on entry by foreigners imposed in late November in response to the fast-spreading omicron variant.

The Health Ministry said on Monday that travelers from 199 countries Israel has designated “orange” would have to prove in advance they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 and would be subject to PCR testing before and after arrival.

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They include Australia, Italy and Ireland. The Health Ministry has also recommended that South Africa, Nigeria, Spain, Portugal, France and Canada, currently among 16 countries listed as “red” or high COVID-19 risk, be changed to “orange”.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a televised address on Sunday that Israel would this week begin loosening curbs on international travel even as micron-fuelled cases spiral.

The US, Britain, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey remain on Israel’s red list, the ministry said. Visitors from those countries require advance special permission from an Israeli committee to enter the country.

Israel banned most travel to and from red-listed countries – initially all in southern Africa – on November 25 after the omicron variant was first detected.

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