Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Israeli authorities to implement a general nationwide lockdown 1700 April 14-0500 April 16 to curb spread of coronavirus.

This alert affects Israel

This alert began 13 Apr 2020 20:22 GMT and is scheduled to expire 13 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Authorities in Israel plan to impose a general nationwide lockdown from 1700 April 14 through 0500 April 16 to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19); the measure coincides with the final days of the Jewish holiday of Passover. During the lockdown, residents will be required to remain in their home towns; in Jerusalem, residents will be restricted to the neighborhoods in which they live. Grocery stores, food deliveries, and other essential services will continue to operate. Israeli authorities had implemented a similar lockdown from 1600 April 7 through 0700 April 10.

Israeli authorities have also imposed tighter movement restrictions in several Jerusalem neighborhoods from 1200 April 12 through 0700 April 15. The affected areas of Jerusalem include Neven Yaacov, Ramat Shlomo, Romema, Har Nof, Mea Shearim, Makor Baruch, Bocharim, and some surrounding areas. The order will not apply to industrial sites, Palestinian communities, and non-ultra Orthodox Jewish communities. Residents of these areas will be required to stay at home and may only leave their homes to perform essential tasks.

These latest measures form part of a package of responses by the Israeli authorities in recent weeks to stem the spread of COVID-19.


 

  • All foreigners are barred from entering Israel from March 18 until further notice. Israeli citizens and permanent residents are still allowed entry. Israelis returning from abroad who are unable to self-quarantine must enter a designated state-run quarantine facility for a period of 14 days.
  • Israel's national flag carrier, El Al (LY) Airlines, has suspended all passenger flights until at least May 2. El Al officials stated that the company will continue to operate emergency and cargo flights.
  • All border crossings with Jordan and Egypt are closed to passenger travel.
  • The closure of nonessential businesses, including shops, cafes, and entertainment venues, is imposed nationwide from March 15 for a period of at least five weeks.
  • Residents are required to stay within 100 meters (328 feet) of their homes, unless traveling to/from work in vital sectors, purchasing necessities such as food and medicine, seeking medical assistance, or traveling for other specified extenuating circumstances.
  • Rail services are suspended nationwide, and other forms of public transport have been reduced.
  • Employers are required to perform health screenings on workers and other persons entering their businesses. Any essential business that does not have sufficient space to meet social distancing requirements must reduce its workforce by an additional 15 percent beyond the already mandated 30-percent reduction. Employers are also required to ensure employees remain 2 meters (6 feet) apart when interacting.
  • Schools, universities, and synagogues are closed until further notice.
  • A prohibition on restaurant takeout is in place; delivery services may continue.
  • Public gatherings of more than two people banned; the ban does not apply to members of the same family or individuals working on combating the spread of COVID-19.
  • Prayers in public are prohibited.
  • 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.
  • A lockdown is imposed on Bnei Brak, which is a predominantly ultra-orthodox Jewish town just east of Tel Aviv, through April 15. Residents are allowed to travel beyond the town limits to perform essential tasks, such as work, seeking medical treatment, attending immediate relatives' funerals, and transferring children between separated parents.
  • All incoming flights are suspended from 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 correspond with similar 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 Organisation: www.who.int