U.S. State Department Eases Travel Advisories for UK, Israel

U.S. State Department Eases Travel Advisories for UK, Israel

The U.S. State Department eased travel warnings for the United Kingdom and Israel just weeks after raising both countries — and much of the world — to its highest travel advisory classification.

The UK, which has begun lifting its strict lockdown restrictions and plans to reopen to some international travel on May 17, is now classified under “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” Currently, most travel from the UK remains prohibited, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also classifies the country as a Level 3.

While the U.S. has downgraded Britain’s advisory level, the UK has not included America on its initial “green” country list, which would allow travelers to take a COVID-19 test before coming and within two days of arriving, skipping quarantine. Rather, the U.S. is considered an “amber” country, which requires travelers to get tested before arrival, and quarantine for at least five days before getting tested again several times.

The decision to downgrade the UK’s travel advisory level comes as at least 53.1% of residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 26.7% are fully vaccinated, according to Reuters, which is tracking the vaccine rollout.

“The return of transatlantic flying would not only have a significantly positive impact on our respective economies but will also reunite those who have been separated from their loved ones for over a year,” a coalition of U.S. and European travel groups, including from Airlines for America and Virgin Atlantic, wrote in a letter last week, Reuters reported.

In addition to the UK, the State Department also downgraded Israel’s travel warning level to “Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution.” It was the second time Israel’s level had been reduced in recent weeks, the wire service noted.

The country, which has one of the world’s most successful vaccination programs, plans to begin welcoming vaccinated tourists later this month. To start, Israel will allow vaccinated group tours (like the popular Birthright program) before eventually expanding to individual tourists.

So far, at least 59.9% of Israelis have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 56.2% are considered fully vaccinated, Reuters noted.

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Israel Drops Outdoor Mask Order, Though Other COVID-19 Rules Still Apply

Israel Drops Outdoor Mask Order, Though Other COVID-19 Rules Still Apply

Israel is leading the charge in the fight against COVID-19

The early signs of the changing pandemic are finally emerging around the world.

Israel eased some of its COVID-19 protocols on Sunday, according to Reuters. The country has officially lifted part of its mask mandate, allowing citizens to freely enjoy the outdoors without face coverings.

This decision is a result of the vaccine roll out in the country. According to Reuters, about 81 percent of Israelis over the age of 16 have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (namely Pfizer/BioNTech), which has caused hospitalizations and cases to drop dramatically.

While the dropping of the outdoor mask mandate is great news, the Israeli government is still proceeding with caution. “We are leading the world right now when it comes to emerging from the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Reuters. “[But] we have still not finished with the coronavirus. It can return.”

“Being without a mask for the first time in a long time feels weird. But it’s a very good weird,” 19-year-old Amitai Hallgarten told Reuters. “If I need to be masked indoors to finish with this — I’ll do everything I can.”

Israel’s Health Ministry still mandates that masks must be worn indoors and travel to the country by foreigners is still very limited. Israelis returning to the country from abroad must also self-isolate.

Starting in late May, the country will allow limited entry to vaccinated tourists, according to Reuters. All travelers must have a negative PCR test before boarding a flight to the country, as well as submitting to an additional test to prove vaccination upon arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport.

As with any destination, it’s important to check health and safety guidelines, including travel restrictions, in Israel before booking a trip. Some foreign citizens may be asked to self-isolate or apply for a permit to enter the country, according to the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

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