Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Israel declared areas of Ashdod and Lod as restricted zones from 0800 July 2-0800 July 9 due to COVID-19 activity.
- Alert Begins: 01 Jul 2020 10:09 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel, transport, and business disruptions, heightened security
Authorities in Israel declared areas of Ashdod and Lod as restricted zones from 0800 July 2 until 0800 July 9 in efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following localized spikes in cases. The measure affects Ashdod’s Gimel, Zayin, and Heth neighborhoods and Lod’s Rakevet, Snir, and Neveh Shalom neighborhoods. Entry to and exit from restricted zones are prohibited, except for essential needs and traveling to work. Authorities may declare additional restricted zones in the coming days, depending on the evolution of disease activity.
Authorities in Israel have extended the nationwide entry ban on foreign nationals until Aug. 1. Israel initially barred entry to foreign nationals on March 18 as part of the country's efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Israeli citizens and residents are permitted to return to Israel but are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Authorities may allow entry for those who can self-quarantine at home, while others will undergo quarantine at a government facility.
Israel's flag carrier El Al (LY) Airlines has extended its suspension of regular passenger flights until July 31, though this does not apply to cargo and emergency flights. However, El Al is operating limited direct flights between Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) and select international destinations, including Paris, London, Los Angeles, and New York City through Aug. 2. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously announced plans to resume bilateral flights with Greece and Cyprus beginning Aug. 1. Netanyahu clarified that Aug. 1 is the target date for the resumption of select international passenger flights, but the decision will depend on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Israeli authorities have been gradually easing restrictions related to COVID-19. The following measures are in effect as part of the COVID-19 recovery plan:
- Train operations resumed nationwide on June 22. Trains are limited to 500 passengers, and tickets must be reserved 48 hours before travel. Furthermore, face coverings and temperature checks will be required. Nighttime train services will remain suspended until further notice.
- Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theaters, and performance halls, reopened from June 19, albeit under strict capacity limitations.
- Places of worship reopened nationwide from May 20; the institutions are allowed to accommodate a maximum of 50 worshipers, who must wear face coverings and maintain a distance of at least two meters (6.5 feet) from each other during prayer services.
- Public transportation has resumed at full capacity between 0700-0830 and 1300-1500 daily.
- Restaurants, clubs, hotels, and swimming pools reopened nationwide May 27.
- Parks and nature reserves have reopened.
- Schools have reopened.
- Residents are permitted to leave their homes without distance limitations and are allowed to visit family members, including elderly relatives, while adhering to social distancing measures.
- Shops, malls, and outdoor markets are open.
- The government introduced a certification plan that outlines new requirements for establishments that want to remain open, including mandatory face coverings, daily temperature checks of employees, and regular sanitization of communal surfaces. Authorities may shut down businesses that fail to comply.
Background and Analysis
Israel's 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.