Passengers are pictured at Ben Gurion Airport at the beginning of November, before the new rules were announced. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Israel first country to ban all foreign visitors over Omicron fears

A country has become the first to shut its doors to foreign tourists due to serious concerns about the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.

Israel has shut its doors to foreign tourists, the first country to do so due to concerns about the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.

“The entry of foreign nationals into Israel is banned except for cases approved by a special committee,” the prime minister’s office announced on Sunday.

During a meeting of the Israeli coronavirus cabinet, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the country needs to use “caution” and take “minimal risks” as the world learns more about Omicron, the Times of Israel reported.

“We’re currently in a period of uncertainty, it’s not a simple or comfortable place to be,” Mr Bennett said.

“The key here is caution and minimal risks until we learn more.

“We want to maintain the tremendous achievement of the State of Israel in the Delta wave — an open and functioning Israel, with a functioning economy, and an active education system with children going to school.

“That’s the top priority.

“To this end we need to maintain tight control over the country’s borders. Every day, we will learn more and know more.”

The cabinet voted to approve the closure of Ben Gurion Airport to non-citizen international arrivals for two weeks, except for those who are granted special permission from a government panel.

Read the article by Kate Schneider in The Courier-Mail.