Israeli officials on Wednesday decided to postpone the entry of international tourists from countries with low coronavirus rates for at least a month (August 1st at the earliest) over the recent surge of COVID-19 in Israel.
A meeting was held between Prime Minister Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, and the decision was made.
The announcement comes on the second consecutive day that Israel confirmed over 100 new coronavirus cases, the highest number since April.
The country was set to begin reopening to individual foreign tourists on July 1, based on the Health Ministry’s outline, but two coronavirus outbreaks in schools in Binyamina and Modi’in have led to the daily number of COVID cases spike to the highest since April.
The Health Ministry is implementing limited restrictions in response to the uptick in coronavirus cases and will require some vaccinated or recovered Israelis to enter quarantine in certain situations.
Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy signed a new directive on Wednesday, requiring those vaccinated or recovered to enter quarantine if they are in contact with someone infected with a highly infectious variant, if they are in regular contact with a high-risk or non-vaccinated population, or if they were in contact with a coronavirus carrier on a plane.
Mask-wearing has also been made mandatory at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Those who violate quarantine will be fined up to NIS 5,000 and parents of children under the age of 12 will be fined if their children are caught violating quarantine.
Israelis traveling abroad will now be required to sign a declaration that they are not traveling to virus hotspots, including Russia, India, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Those who are caught visiting hotspot countries will be fined NIS 5,000.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that the government is treating the current increase in virus cases as a new outbreak and that he is reinstalling the coronavirus cabinet.
The reestablishment of the coronavirus cabinet was approved by a telephone vote on Tuesday. Its members are Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, and Economy Minister Orna Barbivai.
Speaking from Ben-Gurion Airport, Bennett also urged Israelis to refrain from traveling abroad if not strictly necessary and have their children over age 12 vaccinated. He also recommended “in the name of professionals” to return to wearing face masks in closed spaces.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)