Israel to Reopen Airport to All Returning Citizens Stuck Abroad During COVID

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Travellers show their electronic bracelets as Israel introduces them to enforce quarantine amid the pandemic for Israelis who return from abroad in the arrivals terminal of Ben Gurion international Airport, earlier this month
Travellers show their electronic bracelets as Israel introduces them to enforce quarantine amid the pandemic for Israelis who return from abroad in the arrivals terminal of Ben Gurion international AiCredit: Amir Cohen / Reuters

The state told the High Court of Justice on Sunday that it intends to maintain its quota of allowing only 3,000 Israeli citizens into the country each day, but that it will reopen the skies to flights from all locations.

The state also said that returning travelers will still need to self-isolate in accordance with existing regulations, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 strains in Israel.

The Foreign Ministry has asked, the state said, to conduct a survey as soon as possible to determine how many Israelis currently located outside the country want to return to vote in the March 23 election. The statement added that law enforcement officials have been instructed to strictly enforce the quarantine of arrivals.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Sunday that the cap should not be increased in light of new strains of the virus, although the managing director of Ben-Gurion International Airport told the High Court that airport staff could handle the entry of around 4,000 incoming passengers a day while observing coronavirus regulations. 

Meanwhile, according to the government decision from last week, outbound travelers from Israel who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 no longer need to obtain permission from the Exceptions Committee. But the unvaccinated still must obtain permission.

The Transportation Ministry responded: “Israelis, including children, who do not have a vaccination certificate or a certificate that shows they have recovered from the virus, are required to obtain permission from the Exceptions Committee before departing and are required to enter home quarantine upon their return to Israel. Israelis who are vaccinated or recovered from the virus may leave the country without having to apply to the Exceptions Committee.”

This follows the recent reopening of the airport for inbound Israeli citizens, after a controversy erupted over accusations of political bias regarding which citizens received approval to return. 

The Elections Committee was accused of only approving entry for ultra-Orthodox Israelis or those who had other connections to the government, and notably those who would support Netanyahu and his block in the March 23 election.

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