Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Israel reimpose several restrictions July 6 following rise in COVID-19 cases. Transport and business disruptions likely.
- Alert Begins: 07 Jul 2020 10:50 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 09 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel, transport, and business disruptions; heightened security
As of July 6, authorities in Israel have reimposed several restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following an increase in cases nationwide. Under the new directive, event halls, bars, clubs, gyms, and public pools must close until further notice; cultural performances are canceled. Gatherings are limited to 20 people, with participants being required to wear protective face coverings and to comply with social distancing guidelines. Capacity restrictions have been reimposed on restaurants, houses of worship, and public buses.
Parts of Ashdod and Lod were declared restricted zones 0800 July 2-0800 July 9 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 the purposes of attending to essential needs or traveling to work. Authorities may declare additional restricted zones in the coming days, depending on the evolution of disease activity.
Israel's existing ban on nonresident foreign nationals entering the country will remain in place until at least Aug. 1. Israeli citizens and legal residents may return to Israel but are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Arriving travelers who are unable to demonstrate that they are able to self-quarantine at home will be quarantined at a government-established facility.
Israel's flag carrier El Al (LY) Airlines has extended its suspension of regular passenger flights until July 31; cargo and emergency flights remain unaffected. Nevertheless, 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. The government may allow flights with Greece and Cyprus to resume Aug. 1 depending on COVID-19 activity in the coming weeks.
Authorities had been gradually easing restrictions as part of the nation's COVID-19 recovery plan. The following reopenings remain in effect:
- Daytime train operations have resumed nationwide. Trains are limited to 500 passengers and tickets must be reserved 48 hours before travel. Furthermore, face coverings and temperature checks are required for boarding. Nighttime train services remain suspended until further notice.
- Places of worship are operating, although they must comply with government directives on capacity limits, use of protective face coverings, and social distancing during prayer services.
- Public transportation has resumed at full capacity between 0700-0830 and 1300-1500 daily. The measure does not apply to buses, which are limited to 20 passengers.
- The limitation on how far residents may travel from their homes has been lifted.
- Schools, parks, and nature reserves are open.
- Shops, malls, and outdoor markets are open.
The government reserves the authority to shut down any establishments that fail to comply with mandates aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as mandatory use of face coverings, daily temperature checks of employees, and regular sanitization of communal surfaces, among other requirements.
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.