The Health Ministry on Wednesday issued a “severe” warning against travel to the United Arab Emirates, adding the Gulf state to a list of countries which Israelis are advised not to visit due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

It also removed Peru from the list, which now includes the UAE, Uganda, Uruguay, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Maldives, Namibia, Nepal, Paraguay, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica and Tunisia.

A ministry statement said if there is not a “significant improvement” in morbidity figures in those countries, they could be added to another list of countries deemed “maximum risk” to which Israelis are barred from traveling. That list includes Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia.

The ministry noted quarantine requirements for travelers coming from those nations — including those vaccinated or who recovered from coronavirus — are in force until June 27 “and will be extended in accordance with the need in light of the morbidity levels in the various countries.” It also reiterated its recommendation against any non-essential travel abroad.

The statement did not further explain the decision to add the UAE, Israel’s 2020 Gulf peace partner and one of Israelis’ most popular destinations in recent months, to the list.

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Health officials have previously complained that lax treatment of UAE arrivals contributed to new infections, but politicians reportedly feared angering Emirati officials by applying new restrictions so soon after the two countries normalized their ties last year.

An airplane of budget airline Flydubai lands at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on November 26, 2020, on the first scheduled commercial service between the two cities, following the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The issuing of the travel warning came a day Israel lifted the mandate to wear a mask indoors, ending one of the last major remaining coronavirus restrictions in place. The pandemic has largely receded in Israel, with daily caseloads plummeting from the thousands seen at the start of the year to just single and low double digits.

According to the latest Health Ministry figures, 28 new COVID cases were confirmed Tuesday, with 0.1 percent of the 28,056 tests performed coming back positive, after an outbreak in which 11 students were infected at a school in Modiin. Police were reportedly probing if the outbreak was caused by a man who violated quarantine after returning from abroad.

The ministry said there were 231 active infections in the country, with 25 people in serious condition. There have been 839,720 confirmed cases and 6,428 deaths from coronavirus in Israel since the start of the pandemic.

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Wisconsin saw less job loss during the pandemic than neighboring states, according to a Thursday report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

Wisconsin’s total jobs dropped 5.2% from September 2019 to September 2020, according to the nonpartisan research association, while the national percentage was 6.8%. Among neighboring states, Iowa trailed Wisconsin closely at 5.3%, while Minnesota (7.4%), Illinois (7.8%), and Michigan (7.9%) fared worse than the U.S. average.

Mark Sommerhauser, the policy forum’s communications director and policy researcher, said the report was prompted by a feeling that the pandemic’s effect was different regionally across the country.

Wisconsin fared better than neighboring states across 10 major industry sectors tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ quarterly employment and wage reports.

Industries known to have been hit hardest by the pandemic — arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodations, food services, personal care services and certain retail store sectors — accounted for 41% of jobs lost through Sept. 30 in the state. The policy forum noted that employment in these sectors made up only 17% of the state’s total employment as of March 2020, and that share declined to about 12% in April 2020.

Wisconsin’s leisure and hospitality industry employment declined less steeply, down 19%, than in neighboring states, down 24% — which was also the national average.

“As bad and as significant as that decline was here in Wisconsin, we see the example in many other places where it was significantly worse,” Sommerhauser said.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum found that Wisconsin lost a smaller percentage jobs across ten industry super-sectors compared to its neighboring states.

Wisconsin lost more than 26,000 manufacturing jobs year-over-year through September — down 5.5%, compared to 6.8% in neighboring states.

The leisure and hospitality and manufacturing sectors accounted for more than half the state’s job losses, the policy forum noted, and that affected which of Wisconsin’s counties had the most job losses.

The policy forum noted that Wisconsin had recovered about 74% of the jobs it lost from March to April 2020, putting it on a faster recovery pace than the national average of 57%.

Contact Nusaiba Mizan at (920)-431-8310 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @nusaiblah.

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