An Israeli government decision on whether to impose quarantine on all travelers entering the country, regardless of point of departure, is imminent, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a press conference on Sunday evening.
“We will make the decision either today or tomorrow, Netanyahu said. “There are questions about whether to do this, whether there are exceptions.”
“This is not an easy decision. Health is first. It ensures the economy,” he said.
His comments followed media speculation over whether a blanket order would be issued, and where the U.S. would fit into the picture, with the possibility of a quarantine to be imposed only on travelers coming from certain states, where coronavirus cases have been reported.
However, Netanyahu seemed to nix a selective policy for the U.S., saying, “If we take further steps they will be applied to all countries.”
Netanyahu had initially intended to declares new restrictions on people arriving from the U.S. and elsewhere, but shortly before he walked to the microphones decided to postpone the announcement until after a Monday ministerial meeting on the subject, according to Kan news.
He also said he will speak with the Israeli Air Force to ensure that the chain of supply Israel needs for medicine and food will not be disrupted.
To stem a soaring demand for food products amid fears of shortages, the Economy Ministry sought to reassure the public on Friday that “there is no shortage of food products, both from inside the country and food imported from abroad.”
According to recent reports, the level of food inventory available to producers in Israel is high, both in terms of local production levels and imported food.
Regarding the pleas for financial help from El Al and other companies, he said, “I mean to open a line of credit on Monday to answer companies and firms that feel the [financial] pressure” due to the virus. Earlier in the day, a four-billion-shekel assistance fund for businesses hurting in the crisis was established.
The prime minister also warned the nation that the world is “days, perhaps hours away from declaring coronavirus as an epidemic.”
The prime minister also mentioned that Israel is working at developing home testing kit for the coronavirus.
Shortly after the press conference, the Health Ministry announced that three more Israelis had come down with the virus, raising the number of cases in the country to 28.
The Ministry also said that any Israelis who returned from the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington after March 5 must enter quarantine.