Israel to host Miss Universe pageant despite Omicron


JERUSALEM, November 28 (Reuters) – Israel will host the Miss Universe beauty pageant at the Red Sea resort town of Eilat on December 12 despite the imposition of travel restrictions in an attempt to avoid the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, a said on Sunday the Minister of Tourism Yoel Razvozov.

Israel on Saturday announced that it would ban foreigners from entering the country, lengthen quarantines for citizens and residents returning from abroad, and reinstate controversial cell phone surveillance designed to track infections. Read more

However, Razvozov said on Sunday that Miss Universe attendees would benefit from waivers while potentially undergoing 48-hour PCR testing and other precautionary measures.

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“This is an event that will be broadcast in 174 countries, a very important event, an event that Eilat too badly needs,” he told reporters ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, where ministers were due. vote on the anti-Omicron measures.

“We will know how to handle this event. So by using the waivers committee, we will have events like this, which the country has already committed to and cannot cancel.”

In a briefing before a parliamentary committee, Sharon Alroy-Preis, a senior health ministry official, said Israel was preparing a security plan for Miss Universe and could limit admission to the competition to countries considered high. risk.

Israel has confirmed an Omicron case, she said, in a tourist from Malawi.

Alroy-Preis sought to minimize the planned reimposition of cell phone tracking using technology developed by the anti-terrorism agency Shin Bet. The practice, which privacy watchdogs oppose, was largely scrapped in May 2020.

In an effort to locate possible new carriers of Omicron and avoid epidemics, follow-up would be carried out on seven people for each confirmed case, she said.

“We are talking about surgical use,” she said. “We’re not talking about thousands of people.”

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Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell Writing by Dan Williams Editing by Jeffrey Heller and David Goodman

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