Israel Set to Remove U.S., Other Countries From 'Red' No-Travel List

Israel is preparing to clear travelers from the U.S., the U.K. and all other countries for entry into the nation after temporarily banning them when the Omicron coronavirus variant emerged.

The Health Ministry called for the cancellation of Israel's so-called "red" list Thursday, but there is one final legal step that the recommendations must undergo before it is formally approved. It is expected to take effect at midnight Thursday.

The decision switches course on Israel's tight travel policy even as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spurs soaring infection rates across the globe. But the recommendation also acknowledges that while more people are becoming infected with Omicron compared to past variants, it is not causing more severe illnesses and fatalities.

This is especially true among the vaccinated.

Apart from the U.S. and U.K., United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey are among the nations set to be crossed off the "red" list.

The nation also recommended loosening timelines on quarantining for travelers. Under the recommendations, people who are traveling to Israel and have either been vaccinated or recovered from the virus can leave quarantine after 24 hours have passed or when they test negative.

The unvaccinated must test negative twice before leaving quarantine, once upon landing in Israel and then again after isolating for a week.

Israel COVID Test
Israel is gearing up to cancel the so-called "red list" and clear travelers from the U.S., the U.K. and more for entry into the nation after temporarily banning them due to the Omicron surge. Above, a man is tested for coronavirus at a drive-in testing site on Jan. 6, 2022, in Petah Tikva, Israel. Amir Levy/Getty Images

On Thursday, the government reported another record for new infections, with more than 16,000 recorded a day earlier.

That's despite being a vaccination leader early in the pandemic and the first country to offer a third vaccination, or booster shot. Now, Israel is among the first to begin offering a fourth jab. About 64 percent of Israel's 9.4 million people have received two vaccinations, and about 46 percent have received three shots.

In neighboring Lebanon, there was a predictable post-holidays spike in infections as the small country of 6 million reported its highest number of daily cases since the virus outbreak in 2020. According to the Lebanese health ministry, at least 7,247 new infections and 18 deaths were recorded over the last 24 hours. That brings the total number of infections since March 2020 to 750,000 among the population where at least 44 percent have received at least one jab.

Lebanon is facing an unprecedented economic crisis that has sunk the once middle-class country into poverty, depleted resources and undermined basic services, including health. Health authorities warned a new spike threatened the already stretched sector that grapples with shortages of oxygen canisters, ventilators and medical supplies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Israel Travel Rules Eased
Israel recommended loosening timelines on quarantining for travelers entering the country. Travelers queue with their luggage at the check-in counter ahead of their departing flights at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, east of Tel Aviv, on Dec. 21, 2021. Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images