Ireland among countries added to Israel’s Covid travel red list

Move means Israelis cannot travel to Ireland and citizens returning must enter quarantine

As part of the effort to combat the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, Israel has added Ireland to its list of red countries, meaning Israelis cannot travel to Ireland and citizens returning from Ireland must enter hotel quarantine for at least seven days.

Earlier this month Israel banned all foreigners from entering the country.

The expanded list of red countries which went into effect on Monday also includes France, Spain, Norway, Finland and Sweden. The UK, the United Arab Emirates and most African countries were already classified as red and from Wednesday the US, Canada and other European states will also become red, effectively closing Israeli skies to most of the world.

Prime minister Naftali Bennett said that the number of infected was still not high, but that the Omicron variant was extremely contagious with cases doubling every two to three days. The government had “bought precious time” by restricting entry to the country, he said.


“Given the very infectious nature of this variant, the collective, national protection provided by the state isn’t enough. The fifth wave is arriving and every family needs to prepare. Every individual needs to make sure that he has been vaccinated with three shots and that his children are vaccinated,” he said.

Mr Bennett rejected criticism that the clampdown on international travel was an overreaction, calling the move “courageous”.

The decision to close the skies remains controversial and is not supported by all health experts.


Later this week Israel’s high court will discuss a petition submitted by the Association of Travel Agents, which includes a letter written by Professor Itamar Grotto, the former deputy director general of the health ministry, with his professional opinion, stating that the policy of designating countries as red was unreasonable and ineffective.

The new restrictions were announced after the number of confirmed Covid cases topped 1,000 for the first time in two months, but health officials warned that this number is expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks.

While Israel was a world leader in rolling out a nationwide vaccination and booster shot programme, parents have been reluctant to allow their children to get the Covid jab. It has been almost four weeks since the campaign began to vaccinate children but only about 10 per cent of children between the ages of five and 11 have been vaccinated to date.

In response the government has set an ambitious target of vaccinating 700,000 children within two weeks, increasing the number of mobile vaccination units from 50 to 150.

Other measures to stem the spread of the Omicron variant include more working from home in the public and private sector, limiting the number of shoppers in malls and stricter mask-wearing enforcement.