Japan joins Israel in barring foreigners as Omicron worries spread


  • Japan, Australia take defensive steps against Omicron
  • Asian markets, oil prices recover a little
  • Still unclear if Omicron causes more severe disease -WHO
  • Britain plans G7 meet of health ministers on Monday

TOKYO/SYDNEY, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Japan said on Monday it would close its borders to foreigners, as the world’s third-largest economy joined Israel in taking the toughest measures against the new coronavirus variant Omicron, which also cast a cloud over Australia’s re-opening plans.

Markets, however, regained some composure as investors await more details of the variant, after sinking last week on fears it could bring fresh curbs, threatening a nascent economic revival from a two-year pandemic.

Potentially more contagious than prior variants, Omicron, first identified in South Africa, has been found in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the Netherlands.

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It could take “days to several weeks” to understand the level of severity of Omicron, says the World Health Organization (WHO), which flagged it as a “variant of concern”.

As a precaution to avert a worst-case scenario, Japan will close its borders to foreigners from Tuesday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, adding that he was ready for criticism that he was being too cautious.

“These are temporary, exceptional measures that we are taking for safety’s sake until there is clearer information about the Omicron variant,” Kishida told reporters.

He did not say how long the restriction would stay. Japanese returning from specified nations would face quarantine in designated facilities, Kishida added. read more

While Japan has not yet found any Omicron infections, Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto said tests were being run to determine if the new variant had infected a traveller from Namibia who tested positive for the virus.

Israel’s ban took effect from midnight on Sunday. It has also vowed to use counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to combat the new variant. read more

Australia said it would review plans to reopen its borders to skilled migrants and students from Dec. 1, after reporting its first Omicron cases.

A national security panel is to meet later in the day to assess border easing due from Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, but added that it was a “bit too early” to reinstate two-week hotel quarantine for foreign travellers.

“So we just take this one step at a time, get the best information, make calm, sensible decisions,” Morrison told broadcaster Nine News. read more

Symptoms of Omicron are so far mild and could be treated at home, a South African doctor, one of the first to suspect a different variant, has said. read more

TRAVEL CURBS

Morocco will ban all inbound international passenger flights for two weeks from Nov. 29, the government said on Sunday.

Singapore has deferred the start of vaccinated travel lanes with Middle Eastern countries, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in view of their role as “transport nodes” for affected countries, its health ministry said.

The wealthy southeast Asian city-state and neighbouring Malaysia re-opened their land border, one of the world’s busiest, allowing vaccinated travellers to cross after a shutdown that lasted nearly two years. read more

Britain said it would call an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday.

President Joe Biden is to provide fresh details of the variant and the U.S. response on Monday, the White House said in a statement. read more

South Africa has denounced the measures as unfair and potentially harmful to the economy, saying it was being punished for its scientific ability to identify variants early.

“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

“The only thing (it) … will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries.”

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Reporting by Elaine Lies in Tokyo, Renju Jose in Sydney, Chen Lin in Singapore and Reuters bureaus; Writing by Himani Sarkar; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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Israel seals borders and Morocco bans flights as Omicron Covid fears rise | Coronavirus


Israel is barring entry to all foreign nationals and Morocco is suspending all incoming flights for two weeks, in the two most drastic of travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world in an attempt to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Israel’s coronavirus cabinet has authorised a series of measures including banning entry by foreigners, red-listing travel to 50 African countries, and making quarantine mandatory for all Israelis arriving from abroad. The entry ban is expected to come into effect at midnight local time (10pm GMT) on Sunday.

Morocco’s foreign ministry tweeted on Sunday that all incoming air travel to the north African country would be suspended to “preserve the achievements realised by Morocco in the fight against the pandemic, and to protect the health of citizens”. Morocco has been at the forefront of vaccinations in Africa, and kept its borders closed for months in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Israel cases

Many countries, including Brazil, Canada, European Union states, Iran and the US, have placed restrictions on travel from various southern African countries over the past couple of days since the variant was identified by researchers in South Africa. On Sunday Angola became the first southern African country to suspend all flights from its regional neighbours Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

Early evidence suggests the heavily mutated variant poses a higher risk of reinfection than earlier variants and that it could also be more transmissible.

“We know we are now in a race against time,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said, adding that vaccine manufacturers needed two to three weeks “to get a full picture of the quality of the mutations”.

The head of the World Health Organization in Africa urged countries to follow the science rather than imposing flight bans. “With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity,” said WHO regional director general Matshidiso Moeti.

The WHO itself said in a statement: “Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of Covid-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based.”

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa described travel bans as “a clear and completely unjustified departure from the commitment that many of these countries made at the meeting of G20 countries in Rome last month”.

“The prohibition of travel is not informed by science, nor will it be effective in preventing the spread of this variant,” he said. “The only thing [it] … will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to … the pandemic.”

The Dutch public health authority confirmed on Sunday that 13 people who had arrived on flights from South Africa on Friday had so far tested positive for Omicron. The Dutch health minister, Hugo de Jonge, said it was “not unlikely” that more Omicron cases would appear in the Netherlands. “This could possibly be the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Austria also announced that it had detected its first suspected case of Omicron, while the French health minister, Olivier Véran, said it was probably only a matter of hours before the variant was picked up in France. Cases have already been detected elsewhere in Europe.

Following the discovery of cases in the UK, the government reimposed some restrictions including compulsory mask wearing on public transport and shops in England.

Meanwhile, Swiss voters backed the government in a referendum on whether people going to bars and restaurants should show a Covid certificate to demonstrate their vaccination or recovery status. Early results shows that more than 60% chose to support the law on a 64% turnout. Opponents of the Covid pass had claimed the move would create an “apartheid system”.

Over the weekend, New Zealand announced it was restricting travel from nine southern African countries, and Japan widened its border controls to include more countries from the region.

Tourist-dependent Thailand, which only recently began loosening its tight border restrictions to leisure travellers from certain countries, announced a ban on visitors from eight African countries. Similar restrictions took effect in the business hub of Singapore, which is barring entry and transit to anyone with a recent history of travel to seven southern African countries. Sri Lanka banned disembarkation of passengers arriving from six African countries, as did the Maldives.

In the latest indication that the new variant may be hard to constrain, health officials in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, said two passengers who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday evening had tested positive. Both people were asymptomatic, fully vaccinated and in quarantine, NSW Health said. Another 12 passengers from southern Africa were also in 14 days of hotel quarantine, while about 260 other passengers and aircrew have been directed to isolate.

Associated Press contributed to this report



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Omicron: Israel closing border over new coronavirus variant: LIVE UPDATES


Rand Paul blasts Fauci: ‘Astounding and alarming’ to declare ‘I represent science’

Dr. Anthony Fauci escalated his spat with some lawmakers over the nation’s COVID-19 response by claiming they oppose “science.” 

Fauci has served as the face of the government’s pandemic response, putting him at odds with lawmakers who remain critical of that response. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kt., has frequently sparred with Fauci over various statements and policies the president’s chief medical advisor has made.

Fauci, during an interview with “Face the Nation,” dismissed opposition by such lawmakers as “noise,” saying they’re “really criticizing science.” 

Click here to read more. 

Biden ‘prematurely declared independence from the virus’: NBC’s Chuck Todd

NBC’s Chuck Todd challenged President Biden for how he’s handled the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in light of the new omicron variant that has prompted the White House to ban travel from several African countries, beginning Monday.

Todd, host of “Meet the Press,” suggested that omicron, from which most cases were discovered in southern Africa, was not just a health problem. It’s a political one as well for the current administration, he argued, flashing back to when Biden “prematurely” declared a sort of victory over the virus on July 4.

“Ultimately, this is also a political problem,” Todd said Sunday. “Biden ran on taming the pandemic and he prematurely declared independence from the virus back in July.”

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Doctor warns against ‘making conclusions’ on omicron variant amid worldwide concern

In omicron hot spot, somber mood as S Africa faces variant

A new surge was long anticipated and even a new variant, but the speed with which omicron hit came as a “shock” to South Africa’s health experts.

“We did expect that we may see a new or a different variant gaining momentum in the fourth wave … but we did not really expect to see a variant with the kind of multiplicity of mutations. And that is capable of becoming highly transmissible and escape or evade immunity at the same time,” said Moshabela, the expert from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. “This was really the shock that we had.”

Although the current cases are concentrated in Pretoria and Johannesburg, tests show that omicron is already in all of South Africa’s nine provinces.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NIH Dir.: COVID vaccines will ‘most likely’ protect against omicron variant, but too soon to tell

National Institute of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins said Sunday that current coronavirus vaccines will “most likely” be effective against the newly-discovered omicron variant, but that it is too soon to tell for sure.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Collins pointed to the unprecedented number of mutations this variant appears to have, making it unpredictable for the time being.

“We do know that this is a variant that has a lot of mutations – like 50 of them, and more than 30 of those in the spike protein, which is the part off the virus that attaches to your human cells if you get infected,” Collins said. “That is a new record in terms of the number of mutations. It does make you worry, therefore, that it’s a sufficiently different virus, that it might not respond as well to protection from the vaccines. But we don’t know that.”

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Fauci calls for commission on ‘what went wrong’ with country’s COVID-19 reponse

Fauci said he would be “astounded” if the U.S. did not perform an assessment of its response to the pandemic.

“I think what’s going to happen is that you’re going to see that,” Fauci said on “Face the Nation.” “I would be astounded if we did not have a very serious look at what went right, what went wrong from a public health standpoint, from a local standpoint, from a global standpoint.”

“I don’t think the public should imagine this will go through, with 760,000 dying and 40 plus million being infected … and we’re not going to look back at this and tear it apart, examine it, do an autopsy on it and figure it out.”

When asked if he wants a commission to investigate the response, Fauci said he “absolutely” wants one.

COVID-19 omicron variant ‘almost definitely here’

Former FDA head Dr. Scott Gottlieb stated that the omicron variant is most likely already in America, even though officials have yet to confirm any cases.

“It’s almost definitely here already,” Gottlieb said on “Face the Nation.” “Just looking at the number of cases coming off planes this weekend, it’s almost a certainty that there some cases that have gotten into the United States.”

But Gottlieb downplayed any fears that omicron could cause a reset to the way things were at the start of the pandemic.

“We’re in a much better place than we were a year ago when B.1.1.7 first arrived or when delta first arrived,” Gottlieb argued, revealing that the CDC is sequencing about 100,000 cases a week and will set up a new surveillance system specifically for the omicron.

Fauci says COVID-19 will be endemic: ‘We certainly are not going to eradicate it’

Fauci admitted that the virus may end up in a permanent endemic phase, much like the influenza virus.

“We certainly are not going to eradicate it,” Fauci said on “Meet the Press.” “What I do think we’ll be able to do is get a level of control that’s low enough that doesn’t interfere with our function.”

“It doesn’t have a major impact on society and what we do, but it’s not going to go away,” he added.

Fauci says omicron ‘not necessarily’ able to evade vaccine antibodies

Dr. Anthony Fauci told “Meet the Press” that the new restrictions introduced in the face of the omicron variant are born out of caution based on analysis of mutations on the spike protein of the virus.

“The profile of the mutation strongly suggests it will have transmissibility and might evade immune protection that you would get from a monoclonal antibody or from the convalescent serum after a person has been infected and possibly against even some of the vaccine-induced antibodies,” Fauci explained. “It’s not necessarily that that’s going to happen, but it’s a strong indication that we really need to be prepared for that.”

The omicron variant has 32 mutations on the spike protein of the virus, far more than the delta or beta variants had. So far, officials only know that the virus transmits more rapidly, but that is enough to cause concern while the effects of the variant remain unknown.

“It’s clearly giving the indication it has the capability of transmitting rapidly,” Fauci said. “That’s what’s causing us to be concerned.”

Italy detects omicron variant

Italy was among the latest countries to detect the omicron variant within its borders on Saturday.

An Italian businessman who arrived in Rome on Nov. 11 from Mozambique and then returned to his home near Naples has tested positive for the variant. His family, including two children, have also tested positive.

All five family members have mild symptoms. The variant was confirmed by Sacco hospital in Milan.

The man was vaccinated, according to Italy’s National Health Institute.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Indonesia plans to restrict travel from Africa

Indonesia plans to join several other countries, including the U.S., in restricting travel from several African nations, including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini and Nigeria, Reuters reported, citing an official document on Sunday.

Anyone who has been in the countries in the last two weeks won’t be allowed to enter Indonesia’s borders because of the new coronavirus variant omicron, which was identified in South Africa on Thursday.

The ban will take effect on Monday.

Israel to close border, airports to non-citizen international travelers for 14 days due to omicron

Israel has approved a measure closing the country to non-citizen arrivals for two weeks due to fear of the spread of the new omicron coronavirus variant.

On Saturday the Israeli cabinet approved a ban on international arrivals of non-citizens for two weeks and imposed mandatory quarantine for Israeli citizens who are arriving.

Click here to read more on Fox News.





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Netherlands, Australia, Denmark confirm omicron cases as Israel shuts borders.


The omicron coronavirus variant keeps spreading around the world with more countries reporting cases on Sunday, leading some experts to warn that the travel bans governments have rushed to implement may be too late. Health authorities in the Netherlands said 13 cases of the new COVID-19 variant were detected among passengers on two flights that arrived from South Africa to Amsterdam on Friday. Officials had already said there were 61 COVID-19 cases among the more than 600 passengers on the flights. “It is not unlikely more cases will appear in the Netherlands,” Health Minister Hugo de Jonge told a news conference. “This could possibly be the tip of the iceberg.”

Thousands of miles away, Australian officials confirmed that two travelers arriving in Sydney from southern Africa became the first in the country to test positive for the omicron variant. The two passengers were asymptomatic and fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The 12 other people who had traveled with them were placed in quarantine. “This clearly demonstrates the pandemic is not over,” Dominic Perrottet, the premier of New South Wales state, which is where Sydney Is located, told reporters on Sunday. “There are limits to what the state and federal government can do: These variants will get into the country. It is inevitable.”

Denmark also said on Sunday it had detected the variant in two travelers from South Africa. Earlier, the variant that was first discovered in South Africa had been detected in Britain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Botswana, Israel, Australia, and Hong Kong. The list of countries is only likely to keep growing as Austria said it was investigating a suspected case and France’s health minister warned the variant was likely already circulating.

As governments around the world implemented travel bans from countries in southern Africa, Israel decided to take a more extreme route. Israel said late Saturday that all foreigners would be banned from entering the country for 14 days to give experts time to analyze how effective the current crop of vaccines are against the new variant. Fully vaccinated Israelis will have to undergo a three-day quarantine while those who have not been fully vaccinated will have to quarantine for seven days. “The key here is caution and minimal risks until we know more,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennet said at a news conference. Morocco went even further, saying that it would halt all incoming foreign air travel for two weeks starting on Monday.

Many other countries, including the United States, are taking less extreme measures and have decided to ban travel from South Africa and other neighboring countries. These types of bans could help countries buy a few days but are unlikely to really stop the new variant. “By the time we have enough information to institute a travel ban, the cat’s already out of the bag, so to speak,” Nicole A. Errett, a professor at the University of Washington, tells the Washington Post. “Omicron has already been detected in other continents. A travel ban could in theory buy some time by reducing the spread of new seed cases, but we are talking on the order of days to weeks.”





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UK, Germany and Italy detect Omicron variant cases, Israel closes borders


  • Britain, Germany, Italy say Omicron cases detected
  • UK PM Johnson unveils new measures to try to stop spread
  • Many states announce travel curbs, bans on southern Africa
  • Dutch authorities test air passengers for Omicron variant

LONDON/BERLIN/AMSTERDAM, Nov 27 (Reuters) – Britain, Germany and Italy detected cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new steps to contain the virus, while more nations imposed restrictions on travel from southern Africa.

The discovery of the variant has sparked global concern, a wave of travel bans or curbs and a sell-off on financial markets on Friday as investors worried that Omicron could stall a global recovery from the nearly two-year pandemic.

Israel said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country and reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant. read more

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The two linked cases of Omicron detected in Britain were connected to travel to southern Africa, British health minister Sajid Javid said.

Johnson laid out measures that included stricter testing rules for people arriving in the country but that stopped short of curbs on social activity other than requiring mask wearing in some settings. read more

“We will require anyone who enters the UK to take a PCR test by the end of the second day after their arrival and to self-isolate until they have a negative result,” Johnson told a news conference.

People who had come into contact with people testing positive for a suspected case of Omicron would have to self-isolate for 10 days and the government would tighten the rules on wearing face coverings, Johnson said, adding the steps would be reviewed in three weeks.

The health ministry in the German state of Bavaria also announced two confirmed cases of the variant. The two people entered Germany at Munich airport on Nov. 24, before Germany designated South Africa as a virus-variant area, and were now isolating, said the ministry, indicating without stating explicitly that the people had travelled from South Africa. read more

In Italy, the National Health Institute said a case of the new variant had been detected in Milan in a person coming from Mozambique.

Czech health authorities also said they were examining a suspected case of the variant in a person who spent time in Namibia.

Omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, is potentially more contagious than previous variants of the disease, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe COVID-19 compared to other strains.

England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Witty, said at the same news conference as Johnson that there was still much uncertainty around Omicron, but “there is a reasonable chance that at least there will be some degree of vaccine escape with this variant”.

The variant was first discovered in South Africa and had also since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.

FLIGHTS TO AMSTERDAM

Dutch authorities said 61 of around 600 people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday had tested positive for the coronavirus. Health authorities were carrying out further tests to see if those cases involved the new variant. read more

One passenger who arrived from South Africa on Friday, Dutch photographer Paula Zimmerman, said she tested negative but was anxious for the days to come.

Digital display boards show cancelled flights to London – Heathrow at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 26, 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisham/File Photo

“I’ve been told that they expect that a lot more people will test positive after five days. It’s a little scary the idea that you’ve been in a plane with a lot of people who tested positive,” she said.

Financial markets plunged on Friday, especially stocks of airlines and others in the travel sector. Oil prices tumbled by about $10 a barrel.

It could take weeks for scientists to understand fully the variant’s mutations and whether existing vaccines and treatments are effective against it.

TRAVEL CURBS

Although epidemiologists say travel curbs may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating globally, many countries around the world – including the United States, Brazil, Canada and European Union nations – announced travel bans or restrictions on southern Africa on Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department added on Saturday to Washington’s previously announced travel restrictions, advising against travel to eight southern African countries.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters on Saturday that the administration will take it “one step at a time,” when asked about additional travel restrictions. “For now we’ve done what we think is necessary,” Harris said.

Also on Saturday, Australia said it would ban non-citizens who have been in nine southern African countries from entering and will require supervised 14-day quarantines for Australian citizens returning from there. read more

Japan and Britain said they were extending travel curbs to more African countries, while South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Oman, Kuwait and Hungary announced new travel restrictions.

South Africa is worried that the curbs will hurt tourism and other sectors of its economy, the foreign ministry said on Saturday, adding the government is engaging with countries that have imposed travel bans to persuade them to reconsider. read more

Omicron has emerged as many countries in Europe are already battling a surge in COVID-19 infections, and some have re-introduced restrictions on social activity to try to stop the spread. Austria and Slovakia have entered lockdowns.

VACCINATIONS

The new variant has also thrown a spotlight on disparities in how far the world’s population is vaccinated. Even as many developed countries are giving third-dose boosters, less than 7% of people in low-income countries have received their first COVID-19 shot, according to medical and human rights groups.

Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance that with the WHO co-leads the COVAX initiative to push for equitable distribution of vaccines, said this was essential to ward off the emergence of more coronavirus variants.

“While we still need to know more about Omicron, we do know that as long as large portions of the world’s population are unvaccinated, variants will continue to appear, and the pandemic will continue to be prolonged,” he said in a statement to Reuters.

“We will only prevent variants from emerging if we are able to protect all of the world’s population, not just the wealthy parts.”

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Reporting by Toby Sterling, Bart H. Meijer, Costas Pitas, Promit Mukerjee, Stephanie Nebehay, Madeline Chambers, Robert Muller and Reuters bureaus; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Alexander Smith, Nick Macfie and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Israel bars travel to and from South Africa over new COVID strain – Israel News


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Israel Opens to Fully Vaccinated Individual Travelers — What to Know Before Going




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Thailand, Australia, Israel ease travel curbs as lockdowns bite elsewhere


  • First such relaxation in 18 months seen boosting travel industry
  • Hundreds of tourists arrive in Bangkok
  • Australia opening more slowly
  • Britain removes last seven countries on travel ‘red list’

BANGKOK/SYDNEY, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Thailand, Australia and Israel eased international border restrictions significantly on Monday for the first time in 18 months, offering a broad test of demand for travel worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The relaxation contrasts with tightening lockdowns elsewhere, notably in eastern Europe where infections have hit record numbers, and in parts of China, which has taken a zero-tolerance approach to COVID-19 despite relatively few cases.

Hundreds of vaccinated foreign tourists arrived in the Thai capital for quarantine-free travel after the Southeast Asian nation approved visitors from more than 60 countries, including China and the United States.

Several European nations are also on the list as Thailand, one of Asia’s most popular holiday destinations, looks to capitalise on the approach of winter in the northern hemisphere.

“We just picked this flight and it is quite surprising that we are the first flight to arrive,” said German tourist Simon Raithel, 41, who planned to head to the Thai south.

In Sydney, hundreds of citizens were greeted by family and friends as they became the first since April 2020 to arrive from abroad without a permit or the need to quarantine.

“(It’s a) little bit scary and exciting,” said Ethan Carter, who flew in from Los Angeles. “I’ve come home to see my mum ’cause she’s not well.”

While travel is initially limited to just a few states and to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and New Zealand nationals, it heralds a plan to re-open to international tourists and workers. read more

‘WE MISSED YOU GUYS’

Israel also relaxed travel rules on Monday but tourists should read the fine print before booking. read more

“Welcome to Israel,” the government said in a tweet next to a big blue heart. “We missed you guys.”

Individual tourists are allowed in if they have received vaccine boosters – but not if more than six months have lapsed since their last dose, with some exceptions.

That has tempered excitement among hoteliers.

Travellers arriving on the first quarantine free international flights are embraced by family at Sydney International Airport, November 1, 2021. AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi via REUTERS

“How many tourists out in the world have actually gotten boosters or are sitting in that six-month period following their second dose?” Israel Hotel Association CEO Yael Danieli said in the days leading up to the relaxation.

“Even if both parents in a family are vaccinated, their children under 12 are not, so they mostly can’t come to Israel.”

Members of tour groups are exempted from the six-month rule but will have to take PCR or antigen tests every 72 hours for the first two weeks of their stay.

Despite the eased curbs, world travel in full swing is a long way off.

China’s tourism sector is suffering from the country’s zero tolerance for COVID-19 as cities with infections, or even with concerns about infections, close entertainment venues, restrict travel or delay cultural events. Shanghai Disneyland stopped admitting visitors on Monday. read more

Eastern Europe is grappling with its worst outbreak since the pandemic started. read more The Russian capital introduced its strictest lockdown measures in more than a year last Thursday as the daily tally of cases and deaths nationwide hit new highs.

But many Russians have decided that now is an ideal time to fly off for a foreign holiday, with a sharp increase in bookings to destinations where Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is recognised or where COVID entry requirements are cheap and easy.

“Don’t quarantine, but holiday on the beach!” travel company Orange Sun Tour proclaims on its website osttour.ru, which offers breaks in Cyprus, Egypt, Cuba and elsewhere. read more

Rules aimed at moving South Korea towards “living with COVID-19” came into effect on Monday, with the easing of a range of curbs and the introduction of vaccine passports at gyms, saunas and bars.

“The return path to everyday life, to which we’re taking the first step today, is a path we’ve never been on,” Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol told an intra-agency COVID-19 meeting. read more

The Netherlands will impose new coronavirus restrictions this week in a bid to curb a recent surge in infections, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said, without giving details. read more

Britain on Monday removed the last seven countries on its coronavirus “red list”, which required newly arrived travellers to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine.

The United States will lift international travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers on Nov. 8. read more

Reporting by Jonathan Barrett, Jamie Freed, Rami Ayyub, Jill Gralow, Jiraporn Kuhakan, Orathai Sriring and Artorn Pookasook; Writing by Jane Wardell and Nick Macfie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Gareth Jones and Mark Heinrich

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Traveling Through a Divided Israel


Palestinians also take inspiration from Black Lives Matter, and I asked if that had prompted Mr. Tasama to draw any comparisons between his struggle and theirs. He said he hadn’t really considered it.

In fact, his search for belonging had perhaps pushed him in the opposite direction: What ultimately sustains him, he said, is his connection, as a Jew, to this land.

“It is our right to be here,” he said. “This is the place that God gave us.”

The police knew where, though. They arrived an hour after we did, in a convoy of five police cars and a truck carrying two bulldozers, sending the villagers’ horses cantering into the desert. Lying on the sand under a tree, fiddling with his prayer beads, the aging village sheikh sprang to his feet, shouting at his son to chase the police.

“Take their photos!” he yelled.

It was a futile gesture. The police had demolished parts of the village 191 times since 2010, according to a rights watchdog; a camera had never deterred them. This time, their bulldozers knocked down two tents, then left as quickly as they had come.

“That was number 192,” said Aziz al-Turi, the sheikh’s son.

The al-Turi family is descended from Bedouin Arab nomads who crisscrossed the region for centuries, and later settled in the Negev before Israel was founded.

Israel says that most of the Bedouins have no right to the land, since their ownership claims were never recorded in Ottoman-era land registries. For decades, the government has been trying to move more than 30 Bedouin communities from their traditional grazing grounds in the Negev into seven purpose-built towns.

The most prominent holdout is Araqib. Residents showed us copies of a purchase document that they say proves they bought the land from another tribe in 1905. The state says the Ottomans never documented the sale.



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