Israel Arrivals Who Got COVID Booster Vaccine Exempted From Quarantine Starting Friday

COVID czar urges families to test young children for the virus ahead of High Holidays, says there is no set number for infections in schools before classrooms are closed

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People waiting in line at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, last month.
People waiting in line at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, last month. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

People who have received a third COVID booster shot – or those who have recovered from the coronavirus or got their first two doses within six months – will be exempt from quarantine when returning from abroad starting on Friday.

A statement released by the Health Ministry said on Thursday that those vaccinated international travelers will only have to self-isolate until they receive a negative coronavirus PCR test, or until 24 hours have passed since they entered Israel. In light of the new guidelines, Israelis who have already returned to the country from overseas trips and meet these criteria may also stop quarantining on Friday.

This does not apply, though, to countries with particularly high rates of infection – or those designated as “red” – as travelers are still barred from those locations regardless of vaccination status. These countries include Mexico, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Brazil.

Travelers who have not been vaccinated, or have received their second dose more than six months earlier, will still have to quarantine fully.

The only requirement for getting the booster shot is having received the second dose of the vaccine at least five months prior. Those who do not receive a booster shot will no longer be considered vaccinated for the sake of coronavirus restrictions if more than six months have elapsed since their second shot, coronavirus czar Prof. Salman Zarka said earlier this week. That change will go into effect on October 1.

Earlier Thursday, Zarka said that starting the school year on time was a “clear message that we must live with the coronavirus.”

Zarka said the government has yet to determine how many students would need to be infected with COVID before schools must be closed, but that he does not expect that any classrooms would be shuttered soon.

He added that in the event that less than 70 percent of students in a given class are inoculated, a mobile vaccination unit can be brought to the classroom. “There is no guarantee that no students will be infected during the school year, so we’re bringing the vaccinations into the schools. I’m happy to say there has been a high demand for this recently.”

Besides for calling on adults and teens to get their shots, Zarka urged that children under age 12 be tested for COVID ahead of next week’s Rosh Hashanah family gatherings. He said that the validity of PCR tests for children would be extended over the holidays to 96 hours. Zarka also recommended holding High Holiday prayers outdoors, rather than in synagogues.

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