Omicron variant: Spain bans non-vaccinated Britons as Israel shuts borders to all visitors

·2-min read

Only fully-vaccinated British tourists will be admitted to Spain from Wednesday as countries around the world tighten border restrictions amid concern at the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

Until now, Britons could enter Spain by showing a negative PCR test result taken up to 72 hours before arriving, but from 1 December they will also need proof of a Covid-19 vaccination.

The variant, which has also been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and Britain, has sparked global concern and a wave of travel curbs, although epidemiologists say such restrictions may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating globally.

"The appearance of new variants … obliges an increase in restrictions," with regard to people from the UK and Northern Ireland, said a Spanish government bulletin.

A spokeswoman for Spain’s Industry, Trade and Tourism said the move would not affect the estimated 300,000 Brits with residency in Spain.

It came as Switzerland imposed a 10-day quarantine on travellers arriving from Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt and Malawi.

Meanwhile, Israel has said it will ban the entry of all foreigners into the country for 14 days, making it the first country to shut its borders completely in response to Omicron.

"Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country," Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told N12’s "Meet the Press," "and that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree."

Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine, Bennett said. The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.

The Shin Bet counter-terrorism agency’s phone-tracking technology will be used to locate carriers of the new variant in order to curb its transmission to others, Bennett said.

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