New coronavirus strain: Israel suspends air travel, bans entry of foreigners

Israel suspended air travel and banned foreigners, except for diplomats, from entering the country for 10 days as a precaution against the spread of the new COVID-19 strain, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesperson Ofir Gendelman said in a tweet on Monday.

“We decided to close the skies of Israel, and foreigners will not be allowed to enter the country, except in exceptional cases such as diplomats, due to the spread of the new coronavirus mutation,” Gendelman said, adding, “This decision is necessary as we are obligated to preserve your health and your life and it will currently be in effect for 10 days.”

Authorities have also introduced new strict restrictions requiring all citizens returning to Israel starting Wednesday from abroad to quarantine in a “state-run hotel facility,” according to a local media report.

Those returning from the UK, Denmark and South Africa were already required to quarantine from Sunday, news outlet Globes reported.

“All non-Israeli passport holders will henceforth be barred from the country including those with special permits to attend family events, students studying in Israel and business people,” according to the report.

Nearby countries Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman have all announced the closing of their land and sea borders, in addition to the suspension of air travel amid the new coronavirus fears.

Saudi Arabia shut its land and sea borders on Sunday and suspended international commercial flights for a renewable week although foreign flights already in the country can leave, the Interior Ministry said.

Neighboring Kuwait will suspend all commercial flights and close its land and sea borders from 11 p.m. on Monday until January 1, the government communications office said. Cargo operations will continue, it added.

In Oman, land, air and sea borders will be shut for one week starting Tuesday, state television reported.

Several countries have cut travel ties with Britain after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a highly infectious new strain of the virus was a danger to the country.

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