Israel bans flights from Britain over new Covid-19 variant

Israel on Sunday announced a ban on flights from Britain following the discovery of a fast-spreading variant of Covid-19.

A statement issued by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said that the coronavirus cabinet decided to ban also flights from Denmark and South Africa, where the new variant has been found, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The prohibition became effective immediately and will be reviewed in seven days, the cabinet said.

The goal of the ban is “to prevent the arrival of the new strain from abroad,” the statement read, adding that tests are underway to see if it had already begun to spread in Israel.

Israeli TV news channels reported that Israeli citizens who returned from England were stopped at the airport and requested to enter a 10-day quarantine in a hotel. Channel 12 TV news reported that some passengers who had refused to go to the hotel have been returned to England.

“We have closed the skies to all flights to Israel from Britain, Denmark and South Africa … if necessary, we will ban flights from additional countries,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after the coronavirus cabinet meeting.

“Now, when the vaccine is in our hands and we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is important that we continue to follow the rules,” he said.