Israel’s tourism minister said the Miss Universe pageant will proceed despite travel restrictions imposed in response to the omicron COVID-19 variant, Reuters reported
Yoel Razvozov told reporters on Sunday that pageant participants will be granted waivers, undergo COVID-19 testing every 48 hours and follow precautionary measures.
“This is an event that will be broadcast in 174 countries, a very important event, an event that Eilat, too, is very much in need of,” Razvozov said before a cabinet meeting, referring to a resort two in southern Israel that will host the event. “We will know how to manage this event. So, by using the waivers committee, we will have events like this, to which the country already committed itself and cannot cancel.“
Senior Israeli health official Sharon Alroy-Preis said the country is putting together a safety plan for the pageant, which is scheduled to be held in December, saying admissions from countries that are deemed high risk could be limited.
On Saturday, Israel’s government implemented new COVID-19 rules that prohibit foreigners from entering the country for two weeks, lengthen quarantine periods for returning travelers, and reinstate a cellphone surveillance service that tracks new virus infections, according to Reuters.
Officials in the country confirmed a female tourist from Malawi tested positive for omicron, Reuters reported.
South African health officials at a media briefing on Thursday confirmed the discovery of the new variant, formally called B.1.1529, saying the new variant is “very different” from past mutations from the virus.
A WHO advisory group designated the virus variant as “of concern” due to the variant’s large number of mutations and an increased risk of re-infection.
European countries such as France and Great Britain have started to restrict flights from southern Africa due to the new COVID-19 variant.