Earl D.C. Bracamonte – Philstar.com

November 29, 2021 | 9:54am

MANILA, Philippines — Miss Universe Philippines (MUPH) 2021 Beatrice Luigi Gomez left Manila over the weekend on board a Turkish Airlines business class seat and arrived safely in Israel’s Ben Gurion airport in Tell Aviv, with MUPH creative director Jonas Gaffud.

Garbed in a pewter-hued Francis Libiran pantsuit, the beautiful Cebuana was seen carrying four identically-sized luggage plus a smaller hand-carried overnighter and handbag.

Bea is lucky that the Philippines is one of the countries that Israel opened its borders to. In a Reuters report last November 25, Israel announced it was barring its citizens from traveling to southern Africa, while banning the entry of arrivals from the region, citing the detection, by South African scientists, of a new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.

The countries of South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Eswatini were added to Israel’s “red” or highest-risk travel ban. 

“The entry of foreign nationals into Israel is banned except for cases approved by a special committee,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said in a statement, adding that the measure to ban foreigners’ entry into the country would take effect yesterday evening.

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov also said yesterday that Israel will continue hosting the pageant despite imposing travel restrictions due to the Omicron coronavirus variant.

“This is an event that will be broadcast in 174 countries, a very important event, an event that Eilat, too, is very much in need of,” he said before yesterday’s weekly cabinet meeting.

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

Miss Universe South Africa Lalela Mswane, who became controversial after persuaded by her government from non-participation, was seen departing from the national airport. It was not clear though if she was granted entry to Israel or if her arrival preempted the travel ban.

Related: South Africa withdraws support for Miss Universe 2021 bet due to Israel venue

Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks and days leading to the coronation night on Dec. 12. The 70th Miss Universe pageant will be beamed live from Eilat, Israel via A2Z’s Kapamilya Channel on December 13 at 7 a.m.

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