As part of ongoing efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), authorities in Israel extended the country's ongoing nationwide lockdown through at least Oct. 18. The following restrictions, implemented Sept. 18, were previously set to expire Oct. 14:
- 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 government-specified exceptions such as commuting to work, buying groceries, seeking medical care, or attending the wedding of a close relative.
- Synagogues must close.
- Public transportation will operate at a reduced capacity.
- Schools will remain closed.
- Restaurants will remain open for deliveries only.
The restriction limiting gatherings to 20 people and prohibiting citizens from attending protests or demonstrations located more than 1 km (0.6 miles) from their residences is set to expire 2359 Oct. 13. Restrictions on air travel remain in effect through at least Oct. 15. Under the restriction, individuals who purchased an airplane ticket before 1400 Sept. 25 will be permitted to leave the country. However, those who purchased a ticket after that point will be barred from departing.
Israel's ban on entry by nonresident foreign nationals remains in effect. There are currently no restrictions on Israelis returning to the country. 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 Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Rwanda, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. 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.