Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Israeli authorities close several neighborhoods in Jerusalem and Hura through 2359 May 3 due to increased COVID-19 activity.
This alert affects Israel
This alert began 01 May 2020 01:27 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel, transport, and business disruptions, heightened security
Israeli authorities announced the closure of Jerusalem's Romema Mercaz neighborhood and neighborhoods Nine and Ten of Hura from 2300 April 30 - 2359 May 3 to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Additionally, authorities extended the closure of Ramat Beit Shemesh from 0600 May 1 - 2359 May 3. The decision follows increased COVID-19 infection rates in these areas. Entry to and exit from these areas will be prohibited. Authorities will provide residents with food and other necessities. Authorities lifted the previous closure on Netivot and the Nachala and Menucha neighborhoods in Beit Shemesh effective April 30 due to improved COVID-19 data.
Israeli authorities previously approved additional restrictions for the month of Ramadan (April 23-May 24). During Ramadan, all shops in Muslim-majority towns, except for pharmacies, will close from 1800-0300. The measure will be in effect through at least May 3.
Israeli authorities have eased some of the country's previous COVID-19 restrictions. The following measures are in place:
- Standalone stores, hairdressers, and beauty salons were allowed to reopen from April 26. They must, however, adhere to specific health guidelines, including the use of protective gear and the enforcement of social distancing.
- Restaurants are permitted to sell food for carry-out provided there is a barrier between the cashier and customers.
- Businesses are allowed to increase their in-person workforce from 15 percent to 30 percent. Some designated businesses were allowed to return a higher percentage of their employees to work, subject to certain restrictions.
- The government introduced a certification scheme outlining new requirements for establishments that want to remain open, including mandatory face masks, daily temperature checks of employees, and regular sterilization of communal surfaces. Authorities may shut down businesses that fail to comply.
- Stores selling electrical goods, housewares, optical ware, and similar items are allowed to reopen, subject to restrictions on the number of customers permitted inside at any given time and other protective measures for employees.
- Public transportation has begun gradually increasing operations nationwide.
- Childcare and child education programs, religious services, and other social activities are resuming gradually, with certain restrictions at least initially.
COVID-19-related restrictions that remain in effect nationwide include:
- Authorities have barred 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 continues to operate emergency and cargo flights.
- All border crossings with Jordan and Egypt remain closed to passenger travel.
- Schools, universities, and synagogues remain closed until further notice.
- Weddings cannot have any guests, while only 20 people may attend funeral services; up to 10 people may attend a circumcision ceremony.
- Wearing masks in public is mandatory.
- Shopping malls and open-air markets remain closed.
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.
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.