COVID-19: Israel Quarantines Arrivals From All but Ten Countries

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Travelers leaving Ben Gurion airport in Israel, last week
Travelers leaving Ben Gurion airport in Israel, last weekCredit: Tomer Appelbaum
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

The Health Ministry announced new COVID-19 regulations on Sunday that will gradually go into effect over the coming week as Israel struggles to curb the virus.   

New restrictions at Ben-Gurion Airport will take effect starting Monday. Arrivals from only 10 countries will be exempt from quarantine.

Passengers from Austria, Australia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Taiwan, Moldova, New Zealand, China, Singapore and the Czech Republic will not be required to enter isolation. However, only Austria, Hungary, Moldova and the Czech Republic allow Israelis to enter at the moment.

People who return from these ten countries will be required to isolate for 24 hours, or until they receive a negative COVID test result – the earlier of the two.

Israel has also updated its list of countries where travel is barred. People who wish to travel to these countries must apply for a permit via an exceptions committee.

As of Monday the list will include Bulgaria, Brazil, Georgia, Mexico, Spain and Turkey. The rest of the countries in the world are defined as orange, meaning that those returning from them require a full period of isolation – including those who have been vaccinated or recovered from coronavirus, and regardless of their age.

Quarantine time can be shortened from two weeks to seven days upon the receipt of two negative tests results. The first test will be taken on the arrival at the airport, and the second is to be taken on the seventh day of isolation. This list of countries is expected to be updated according to the trend of the pandemic in countries all over the world.

As of Wednesday, mass events will be limited to 5,000 people outdoors and 1,000 indoors, while gatherings at private homes and other places that don’t require a green pass – meaning proof of immunity – will be limited to 100 people outdoors and 50 indoors.

In addition, the green pass will now be required for anyone from the age 3 at venues where it is mandatory.

At stores and shopping malls, which don’t require a green pass, occupancy will now be restricted to one person per seven square meters (75 Square foot) of space. The same rule will apply to any business which offers services to the public. However, stores sized 100 square meters or less will be exempted from this rule.

As of next Sunday, gatherings at event halls will be limited to 500 people if the event is outdoors and 400 indoors.

On the comforting side, people visiting hotels will be able to present a negative PCR test that will be valid for their entire stay rather than only for 72 hours.

In addition, children aged 3 to 12 and older people who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons will be entitled to get PCR tests for free at their health maintenance organizations or testing centers run by the Home Front Command.

On August 8, Israel began charging unvaccinated people for coronavirus tests, however, it exempted those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons

Earlier on Sunday the director general of the Health Ministry, Prof. Nachman Ash, said he expects that next week the number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition will decrease because of the third dose of the vaccine.

Ash said he is basing his comments on preliminary data the Health Ministry has collected, in which the third dose does lead to a drop in the number of people infected by the virus.

Health Ministry data from Sunday evening shows that the number of Covid patients in serious condition rose to 525, of whom 122 are in critical condition and 91 are on ventilators. The number of serious cases has been rising steadily over the past few weeks, and their number Sunday is the highest since March 29. On Saturday, 4,176 new cases were diagnosed, and 5.38 percent of coronavirus tests came back positive.

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