The United Arab Emirates has suspended a visa exemption agreement for Israelis, which was supposed to come into effect in February, until July 1 due to Israel's high coronavirus infection rates.
The UAE announcement came a few hours after Israel announced that all returnees from the UAE and Brazil will have to enter isolation in government-commandeered hotels.
Even so, the UAE said the decision to delay the waiver is unrelated to this move and actually stems from the high infection rate.
"In accordance with the visa waiver agreement signed and ratified by the two countries, and in view of the efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the visa waiver agreement will be suspended until July 1," the Emirates said in a statement.
"The suspension of the agreement was made in accordance with section 12 (2) of the agreement, according to which, each party may suspend the implementation of the agreement, among others for reasons of public health."
Under the current agreement, Israelis planning to make the trip to the UAE will have to get an entry visa to the Gulf State, as will Emiratis intending to visit Israel.
Israel's visa exemption for Emirati citizens has been heavily criticized by defense officials as an entry visa facilitates a thorough background check and the option of denying entry to the country upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport if necessary.
In closed-door discussions held prior to the signing of the visa agreement, the Shin Bet security service expressed its concerns over the exemptions, pointing out that an entry visa for UAE residents was vital to state security.
But these fears were met by opposition by supporters of the agreement present at the discussions, who said security checks at Ben-Gurion Airport would harm the Emiratis' experience of visiting Israel.