Senior Israeli sources said Tuesday that plans to resume flights and international tourism have “gone down the drain” due to the rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the country.
Israel was set to resume flights to selected countries on August 1, with the Foreign Ministry negotiating with at least 12 states in order to create "coronavirus-free zone," but the plan now looks to be delayed.
"With such a high infection rate, Israel can forget about the August 1 resumption [of tourism]," one Foreign Ministry official said. "All the work that has been done so far has gone down the drain. Israel was ready to open its borders to at least 12 countries, which is no longer relevant, Israelis are no longer wanted.”
The recent resurgence of COVID-19 in the country puts Israel wide off the target set by the European Union, which is 16 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.
Foreign Ministry officials say tourism can only resume if Israel manages to bring down its contagion rate. "It all depends on our infection rate," said one source. "At this point, it seems far away. It does not look like it will happen by August 1," the source said.
Another source, however, said there is still room for optimism since Israel can sign bilateral "open border" deals with countries in the region, most likely with Greece and Cyprus.
Earlier, the EU announced it will reopen its borders to travelers from 14 countries, but Israelis and Americans are among stated that have been refused entry for at least another two weeks due to soaring coronavirus infections in those countries.