Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Israel reimposes certain restrictions as of July 17 due to increased COVID-19 activity. Business, transport disruptions possible.

  • Alert Begins: 17 Jul 2020 10:07 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 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

Summary
Israeli authorities reimposed a series of restrictions nationwide to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following a sharp increase in the infection rate. Effective from 1700 July 17 until further notice, certain restrictions on business and leisure activities will be in force on weekends - more specifically from 1700 each Friday through 0500 each Sunday. While essential businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, will be permitted to remain open, nonessential shops, as well as malls, open-air markets, hair salons, barbershops, libraries, zoos, museums, pools, tourist sites, and cable cars will be required to close. Beaches will close on weekends beginning July 24. There are currently no movement restrictions on residents leaving their homes.

Furthermore, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 20 people until further notice. Gyms and dance studios are required to close. Most restaurants will be restricted to providing carry-out service only beginning 0500 July 21; restaurants in hotels, however, are required must limit the number of patrons to 35-percent capacity. Government ministries are reducing their staff presence by 50 percent.

Israel's existing ban on nonresident foreign nationals entering the country will stay in effect through 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 cannot demonstrate that they can 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 may operate at full capacity between 0700-0830 and 1300-1500 daily. The measure does not apply to buses, which are limited to 20 passengers.

 

  • There is no more limit on how far residents may travel from their homes.

 

  • Schools, parks, and nature reserves are open.

 


The government reserves the authority to shut down any establishments that fail to comply with mandates to prevent 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.

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.


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