Israel to Require U.S., 17 Other Countries to Quarantine Regardless of Vaccination Status

Israel's Health Ministry said Tuesday that travelers arriving from the U.S. and 17 other countries will now be required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The latest travel guidance comes as the country recorded 3,834 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, marking its highest daily case count in a month-long acceleration of new infections, the Associated Press reported.

Now, all travelers coming from the 18 countries—whether they be vaccinated or not—must fully quarantine for two weeks beginning on August 11. However, if a person tests negative for the coronavirus twice after seven days, they can be released from quarantine early.

The countries included in the travel warning are Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Iceland, Greece, Ukraine, Eswatini, Botswana, Bulgaria, Tanzania, Malawi, Egypt, Czech Republic, Cuba, Rwanda and Tunisia. They join a list of 24 other countries that have various existing COVID-19-related travel restrictions, including the U.K., Brazil, India, Russia and Turkey.

Israel travel
Israel added the U.S. and 17 other countries to a list of places where people must quarantine after travel, despite vaccination. Here, Israelis and vaccinated tourists get tested for COVID-19 upon arrival to Israel's Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on May 23, 2021. JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Forty-two countries are now on the list of those from which travelers must quarantine for 14 days, or seven days with two negative PCR tests, according to The Times of Israel. During a coronavirus cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Health Ministry said individuals traveling from the 18 newly-designated countries have an increased risk of bringing coronavirus variants, such as the highly contagious Delta variant, to Israel.

"The central threat to Israel's achievements in controlling the pandemic is the danger of allowing entry to mutant coronavirus variants that can be more aggressive or have a greater rate of infection, and harm the non-vaccinated population," the ministry said in a statement.

"There is an increased risk that those who travel to these countries will return and bring with them variants that will spread quickly in the community and not be identified until it is too late."

According to data from the ministry, 141 people with COVID returned from the U.S. in the month of July: 27 from Italy, 43 from Germany, 292 from Greece and 42 from France.

Despite implementing a rapid vaccination campaign, Israel has seen rising COVID-19 infections since mid-June. As of Tuesday, there are now 22,727 active coronavirus infections, of which 221 are considered to be serious. Forty-seven people are now being treated for the virus with ventilators.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly warned officials that the country should implement more restrictions now to prevent a new lockdown during the Jewish holidays in September. "We need more restrictions in order to prevent extreme steps in the future," the prime minister said Tuesday, according to the Times.

So far, at least 59 percent of Israel's 9.3 million population have been fully vaccinated, while 64 percent have received at least one dose.

Newsweek contacted Israel's Ministry of Health for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.