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Birthright cancels remaining summer trips to Israel over new COVID quarantine rule

Taglit-Birthright will be canceling all its remaining trips to Israel this summer as of Wednesday, now that all passengers arriving in the country from the United States will be required to quarantine.

A spokesperson for Birthright, which provides free, 10-day trips to Israel, said that 42 trips had been canceled because of the new seven-day quarantine rule. Americans have accounted for a large share of Birthright participants since the organization resumed activities in May following a 14-month hiatus.

“We anticipate that the seven-day quarantine rule will be temporary, and we look forward to resuming trips as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.

The reintroduction of the quarantine requirement, as part of Israel’s efforts to contain the recent spread of the delta COVID-19 variant, comes during what is normally the peak season for Birthright. The spokesman said that since Birthright resumed activities in May, 3,900 young Jewish adults had participated in its trips to Israel, including those scheduled to arrive on Wednesday before the quarantine rule takes effect at midnight.

Participants registered on trips that were canceled because of the new quarantine requirement will be able to sign up for new trips once Birthright resumes its activities. The organization has added extra trips in the upcoming winter season – between December 2021 and March 2022 – to accommodate them. Before the pandemic struck, Birthright would bring tens of thousands of young Jewish adults to Israel each year. For most of them, this was their first trip to the country.

Ever since mid-March 2020, with few exceptions, Israel has only allowed its own citizens into the country. Those exceptions, however, have included educational trips like Birthright and Masa. Only vaccinated individuals or those who have recovered from COVID-19 were allowed to participate in Birthright trips.

Because it runs longer-term programs, Masa said it did not anticipate the new quarantine requirement would affect its activities.

This article originally appeared on Haaretz and was reprinted here with permission.

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