LONDON: US President Joe Biden will refrain from shaking hands during his upcoming visit to Israel, the White House has told the office of Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
According to a Jerusalem Post report, the decision was made, in part, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the US and in Israel.
Ministers received notification on Monday that “because of scheduling pressure, COVID, and the hot weather, the US president will not shake hands with the invited (guests at the airport arrival ceremony), and there will be no opportunity for personal photographs.”
President Biden is scheduled to arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport on Wednesday, and is expected to meet with his counterpart Isaac Herzog, as well as Lapid and other senior officials.
Biden’s aides are taking all necessary precautions to prevent the president catching COVID-19, a recent New York Times report added.
All aides are tested once a week and have to wear colored wristbands on the day they take their test and, if holding a face-to-face meeting with the president, they must test the morning of the meeting and wear N95 masks, it said.
In addition to the Israel trip, Biden will also visit the occupied West Bank and Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, Israel reported 12,648 new COVID-19 cases, while the US had almost 58,000 new infections.