Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Israel restricts departing flights amid nationwide lockdown Sept. 25-Oct. 11 due to COVID-19 activity. Other restrictions remain.
Alert Begins 25 Sep 2020 03:42 PM UTC
Alert Expires 31 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel, transport, and business disruptions; heightened security
Authorities in Israel clarified Sept. 25 restrictions on departing flights amid the country’s ongoing nationwide lockdown. Individuals who purchased an airplane ticket before the tightened coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions entered into effect 1400 Sept. 25 will be permitted to leave the country. However, those who purchased a ticket after that point will be barred from departing. There are currently no restrictions on Israelis returning to the country. The restrictions on departing flights came amid a series of new measures to bolster the ongoing lockdown as COVID-19 cases continue to increase. The following restrictions will remain in effect through at least Oct. 11.
- All nonessential businesses are required to close.
- Open-air markets must close.
- Residents must remain within 1 km (0.6 miles) of their residences, except for essential reasons such as commuting to work, buying groceries, or seeking medical care.
- Social gatherings, including demonstrations and communal prayers, are permitted in open areas only. Gatherings are limited to 20 people who must live within 1 km (0.6 miles) of the gathering site. An exception will be made for anti-government protests outside of the Prime Minister’s residence, where 2,000 people will be permitted to protest in smaller groups of 20 people each.
- Synagogues must close, except for Yom Kippur. Prayer services on Yom Kippur will be subject to limitations on the number of worshipers and other such restrictions.
- Public transportation will operate at a reduced capacity.
- Schools will remain closed.
- Restaurants will remain open for deliveries only.
Previously, authorities had ordered schools, restaurants, hotels, gyms, cinemas, and shopping malls to close but had permitted many private offices and businesses to continue operating.
Israel's existing ban on entry by nonresident foreign nationals remains in force through at least Oct. 1. The nation's flag carrier, El Al Airlines (LY), extended its suspension of regular passenger flights until at least Sept. 30 due to continued COVID-19 restrictions on passengers arriving from most countries. The airline will gradually resume passenger flights Oct. 1. Cargo and emergency flights remain unaffected. The Ministry of Health has exempted Israeli citizens and residents returning from certain countries with low COVID-19 infection rates from the nation's mandatory 14-day quarantine. These countries are Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Serbia, Seychelles, and the UK. Israeli citizens and legal residents returning from any other destination are subject to the quarantine requirement. Arriving travelers who cannot demonstrate that they can self-quarantine at home will be isolated at a government-established facility.
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 compulsory use of face coverings, daily temperature checks of employees, and regular sanitization of communal surfaces, among other requirements. Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Background and Analysis
Israel's restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments have been 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.