Travel Confusion to Israel Leaves Passengers Stranded

YERUSHALAYIM -
The empty departure hall of Ben Gurion International Airport. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

On Sunday, the Chaim V’Chessed organization issued a travel advisory, recommending that foreigners living in Israel carefully weigh potential plans for travel out of Israel. On Monday, those concerns have become stark reality.

As of now, there is extreme uncertainty for all travelers – foreigners and Israelis alike – regarding travel to Israel. As has been reported, Israeli authorities have immediately halted entry to all foreigners from the following countries: United Kingdom, Australia, Denmark, South Africa and Brazil. Included are those abroad who have already received entry permits.

Chaim V’Chessed said that they have been inundated by calls from Israeli residents who found themselves abroad at the time of this sudden decision, but unfortunately there is no solution at the time for these callers.

Furthermore, even foreigners with flights connecting in the U.K. are being prevented from boarding flights to Israel.

It is possible that travelers from the U.K. who seek to enter Israel via a different country will be allowed to take off to Israel. This situation may change shortly, as authorities are considering shutting down this route as well.

Chaim V’Chessed has learned that, as of Monday morning, authorities have ceased issuing entry permits to student visa holders. Cessation of entry permits for simchos, medical emergencies and deaths is under consideration at this moment. Moreover, the Coronavirus Cabinet is meeting Monday to consider the cessation of all flights to Israel, including for Israeli citizens.

Due to this volatile situation, Chaim V’Chessed strongly discourages non-citizens from leaving Israel if they wish to return in the coming days. Even Israeli passport holders should seriously reconsider travel plans, as there exists a real possibility of all flights being suspended.

In a related move, all travelers on flights from England that landed in Ben Gurion Sunday afternoon were re-routed to Terminal One, where the passengers were taken against their will to quarantine hotels. Passengers who refused to cooperate are being threatened with return to England. (It remains unclear whether passengers who have already recovered from COVID will be required to quarantine as well.)