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Parson’s trip to Israel, Greece postponed amid rising omicron concern

Gov. Mike Parson’s planned trade mission to Israel and Greece has been postponed as a new COVID-19 variant has caused worldwide concern. 

Parson had planned to embark on his third trade mission on Thursday, but Israel said it would close its borders to visitors from foreign countries as several countries, including in Europe, have reported cases of the omicron variant

“We are postponing our trade mission because we want to respect the travel policies and practices enacted by the host countries,” Parson said in a statement Monday. “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 and the first lady are hosting a Christmas tree lighting at the Governor’s Mansion in Jefferson City this week. 

Parson was expected to be overseas from Dec. 2-11 to meet with representatives from companies with already established relationships with Missouri and those without to promote the state. 

The governor went to France, Germany, and Switzerland during his first overseas trade mission in 2019. He then went to Australia later that same year. 

The trip is funded by the Hawthorn Foundation, a Missouri non-profit organization.

Earlier Monday, President Joe Biden addressed the nation in an attempt to calm fears over the new omicron COVID-19 variant. He encouraged vaccinations, including the booster shot, as well as wearing face coverings in public, indoor places. 

Biden said the new variant is not a cause for panic but concern.