Israelis Rush to Book Return Flights to Beat Quarantine

YERUSHALAYIM -
An Emirates jetliner comes in for landing at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)

As Israel decided on Monday to impose a quarantine on its citizens returning from all foreign countries due to the emergence of a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus, a clamor for return flight bookings ensued.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏’s office issued a statement saying: “Israelis returning from abroad, from all countries, will be required to quarantine at designated hotels for ten says (with two tests) or 14 days (without tests).

“The decision is valid for ten days, with an option to be extended, and will be submitted immediately to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for approval,” the brief message concluded.

The news precipitated a flood of requests at airline call centers for flight bookings back to Israel as soon as possible in order to return ahead of the measure, set to go into effect on Wednesday at 2 p.m., Ynet reported.

In response to the sudden uptick in demand, Israeli carriers were adding flights. El Al was augmenting its schedule to enable hundreds of tourists to return from Dubai in time to beat the quarantine.

Israir Airlines said it will add more than 12 flights, but the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, Gil Stav, said he could not guarantee that everyone will return home in time.

“People understand that they have to return to Israel by Wednesday, so we are trying to add more flights to Israel, causing a congestion, mainly from Dubai… this is not a simple situation,” he said. “Forty-eight hours is not enough time for everyone to return and I’m not sure there will be enough flights by Wednesday.”

Arkia Airlines CEO Oz Berlowitz said that while many customers rushed to get a flight home, others have asked to extend their vacation, hoping the quarantine directive will elapse after the initial 10 days.