Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Israeli authorities announce additional restrictions on Independence Day and Ramadan through May 3 to stem spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Israel

This alert began 23 Apr 2020 07:46 GMT and is scheduled to expire 06 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel, transport, and business disruptions; heightened security

Summary
Israel's cabinet approved plans for a lockdown during the country's Independence Day and additional restrictions for the month of Ramadan to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). During Ramadan, which begins April 23, all shops in Muslim-majority towns, except pharmacies, will close from 1800-0300; the measure will be in place until May 3. Officials have also ordered residents to stay at home starting 1700 April 28-2000 April 29, during Independence Day with an exemption for buying essentials. Public transportation will not operate during this period.

Previous COVID-19-related restrictions that remain in effect nationwide in Israel include:

  • Authorities have been barring all foreigners from entering Israel until further notice since March 18.
  • Israel's national flag carrier, El Al (LY) Airlines, has suspended all passenger flights until at least May 2. The company will continue to operate emergency and cargo flights.
  • All border crossings with Jordan and Egypt remain closed to passenger travel.
  • Residents are required to stay within 100 meters (328 feet) of their homes unless partaking in permitted activities such as traveling to/from work in approved sectors, purchasing necessities such as food and medicine, or seeking medical assistance.
  • Schools, universities, and synagogues remain closed until further notice.
  • A prohibition on restaurant takeout is in place; delivery services may continue.
  • Public gatherings of more than two people are banned; the ban does not apply to members of the same family or individuals working on combating the spread of COVID-19.
  • Weddings cannot have any guests, while only 20 people may attend funeral services; up to 10 people may attend a circumcision ceremony.
  • Authorities have introduced legislation making the wearing of masks in public mandatory.
  • Officials have suspended all incoming flights since April 11. The suspension will continue until Home Front Command obtains the requisite legal permission to transfer arriving travelers to designated facilities to wait out their 14-day quarantine.



Background and Analysis
Israel's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
Israel Government Coronavirus Response Website (in Hebrew): www.gov.il

Israel Ministry of Health (in Hebrew): www.gov.il

El Al Airlines: www.elal.com

World Health Organization: www.who.int