UAE suspends Israel’s visa-free travel deal over COVID-19 worries
The UAE has postponed the implementation of a visa-exemption agreement with Israel after Israel required anyone entering from the Gulf state to be quarantined as a COVID-19 precaution.
Visa waivers were a centrepiece of a Sept.15 deal formalising Israeli-UAE relations. According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, they were meant to have gone into effect by Feb.13, having been ratified by Abu Dhabi last Wednesday.
But the Israeli ministry said in a statement that its UAE counterpart had “suspended” the waiver agreement until July 1 “given efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.”
Citizens of the two countries can obtain visas through their airlines, as tens of thousands have done since the normalisation pact.
Monday’s announcement followed a decision by Israel’s Health Ministry to require that anyone coming from the UAE be taken to a military-run “coronavirus motel” for a quarantine lasting between 10 and 12 days.
Israel has been struggling with the pandemic even as it implements the world’s fastest-paced vaccination programme. Israel’s Health Ministry has logged more than 5,000 new cases per day this week.