As coronavirus cases continue to soar in Israel despite the current strict lockdown, with the positivity rate on Monday standing at 9.1%, the highest in over two months, the Israeli government is considering banning all non-urgent travel from Israel.
In an emergency meeting called by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday evening, ministers discussed requiring travelers to present a negative coronavirus test prior to boarding flights to Israel, possibly banning all non-urgent travel, and requiring returning travelers from additional countries to isolate in state-run hotels.
Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told Army Radio on Monday that ministers will convene on Tuesday to make final decisions regarding travel restrictions. It is expected that the ministers will also extend the current lockdown, which is scheduled to end on Thursday, for another week.
Health Ministry official Dr. Orly Greenfeld told Ynet on Monday that she recommends closing Ben-Gurion entirely for a short time to prevent further cases of the South African variant and other variants from entering the country.
“In terms of health, it would have been better to close Ben-Gurion Airport,” Greenfeld said.
“The more people stay put, the less chances any new variants of the virus will make their way into Israel.”
“This is something we must do as soon as possible in order to stop [the spread of the South African variant],” said Greenfeld. “The British variant is already here, apparently 20% of all verified cases are due to the British variant.”
“There are currently 20 patients who were found afflicted with the South African variant. In the last two days we discovered that several of them have recently returned from Dubai.
This has led us to decide that all those returning from the UAE and Brazil will be taken to isolation in a hotel, which was implemented very quickly.”
At the meeting, a decision was made requiring Israelis returning from the United Arab Emirates and Brazil to quarantine in state-run hotels. The decision went into effect on Monday and will be in effect until January 27, 2021.
A decision for travelers from South Africa and Zambia was extended for another ten days, also until January 27, 2021.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)