Israel is part of a new initiative led by Austria of relatively small countries that feel they have succeeded in beating Covid-19, for the time being. The countries would open their borders between each other, in order to boost their tourist industry and help revive their economies. The first meeting of the 'immune countries alliance' took place last week online with the participation of Denmark, Greece, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, Australia, Austria and Israel.
While the countries announced last week that they had agreed to exchange the latest information on a range of scientific data in the battle against the coronavirus, the "Wall Street Journal" reported that Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is also promoting the idea that the countries should open their borders to each other in the near future. "Our countries acted early and forcefully and now we are in a better position," Kurz told the Austrian media, after the meeting which included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to the reports, the countries might agree that as part of the opening of the borders there would be a commitment to basic precautions such as wearing masks in stores in all the countries (as already happens), a policy of widespread testing, and closing borders for any possible outbreaks. The countries also agreed other hygienic measures like making wearing masks on flights compulsory and even blood tests for passengers for swift discovery of the virus.
The Wall Street Journal wrote, "The bloc is working on a road map to reopen internal borders, which some officials now say could be undermined if members of the initiative lift travel restrictions among each other first. In practice, this could make travel between Israel and Greece easier than between Greece and Italy, at least for a while, a Greek government official said."
Other European countries oppose this initiative including Germany, which has also been relatively successful in containing Covid-19. Germany refused an invitation to join the alliance because it is disruptive for the EU and has also said that it is too early to talk about opening its border with Austria.
Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen, said the EU was a "very important framework, but I think this global alliance is very appealing because it brings together countries from all over the world."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 4, 2020
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