Israel Announces New COVID Rules to Prevent Crowding in Airport

Passengers will disembark planes in small groups in order to limit crowds in arrival halls

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Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, December 13, 2020.
Ben Gurion Airport, Israel, December 13, 2020. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Israel announced on Monday new rules for passengers at Ben-Gurion International Airport, in light of long lines over the past week due to a spike in holiday travel and understaffing because of the pandemic.

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Officials from the health and transportation ministries met to discuss the issues after videos and photos showing hundreds of people crammed together at the airport were posted on social media over the weekend.

Israelis waiting in line at Ben-Gurion International Airport on December 9, 2020

The health and transportation ministries said that under the new rules, those arriving from so-called green countries will not be questioned upon arrival.

The new regulations state that no more than four planes will be allowed to disembark at the same time, with no more than two arriving from so-called red countries. Disembarking will be supervised and will be done in groups of 20-30 people.

For departures, check-in counters will open four hours prior to takeoff and the number of counters available for passengers will be doubled.

Enforcing these new rules will likely prove challenging, as the airport handles more than 30 inbound and outbound flights a day. Many of the latter arriving from countries with a high COVID caseload.

Health Ministry officials warned this week that hundreds of Israelis are likely to get infected with coronavirus during trips to the United Arab Emirates this month. More than 15,000 Israelis visited the UAE in the first half of December and a similar number is expected to travel there during the second half of the month.

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