JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson postponed his international trip to Israel and Greece just days before he and the first lady were scheduled to leave.
With the rise of the omicron variant, some countries, including Israel, are re-imposing firm travel restrictions and locking down aspects of international trade.
“We were really looking forward to going to Israel,” Parson told FOX4 on Tuesday while visiting Kansas City. “We’ve got a lot of trade partners over there that we were kind of wanted to get back out and see how we can develop some more of that.”
While in Israel and Greece, Parson planned to deliver a keynote speech at the Greek Economic Summit, and join in an ag-tech roundtable discussion, receive economic briefings, and attend meetings with the Ministry of Defense and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
The Parsons were scheduled to leave Thursday, Dec. 2, and return to Missouri on Dec. 11.
“We are postponing our trade mission because we want to respect the travel policies and practices enacted by the host countries,” Parson said.
“While we are disappointed that we have to postpone, delaying our trade mission is necessary and the best course of action to ensure the health and safety of our state leaders, private partners, and staff who were planning to join us. We look forward to traveling to Israel and Greece soon.”
Parson’s office said Monday that efforts are underway to reschedule the trip. The governor’s office said details of the trip will be released once it is rescheduled.
Instead of his trade mission, Parson is instead spending his week attending various holiday events in Kansas City and Jefferson City.
On Tuesday while in Kansas City, the governor toured the Bishops’ Storehouse, a space providing food to people in need and coordinated through the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Bishops’ Storehouse director Michael Maloney said monthly orders have dropped by almost half when compared to last year, when the pandemic was wrecking havoc on families, but they’re still stockpiling up to a six-month supply of food with some concerns about the supply chain.
Along with supply chain issues, the omicron variant also has international leaders concerned, leading to new travel restrictions.
Parson said there are still a lot of unknowns with the new variant, but just because Israel is barring all foreign travelers, it doesn’t signal to him that Missouri will need to take drastic action in the future.
“Those countries made decisions. We respect the decisions they made,” Parson said. “And frankly, as governor, you’re taking a group of people over there, you’ve got to understand that you’re responsible for all those people. So it was just one of those things. It was the best thing to do right now.”
Parson said in response to the omicron variant that his advice is unchanged. He continues to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.