Returning Israelis to be Sent to Quarantine Hotels, but Logistics Unclear

Magen David Adom medical worker wearing protective gear, handling a Coronavirus test from patients outside a hotel being used as a quarantine facility, in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Kan News reported Tuesday that despite the Coronavirus Cabinet’s decision requiring returning Israelis to enter isolation in the corona hotels an internal report by the Home Front Command indicates that there is a problem in operating these hotels.

In addition to the problems recruiting operators of the hotels, the number of beds required is indefinite, as the number of returning travelers is unknown.

On Monday, the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved a decision by the Coronavirus Cabinet requiring any Israeli returning to the country from abroad to be isolated in a state-run coronavirus hotel. The new restriction will go into effect on December 23 at 10 p.m. Travelers will need to stay in the hotels for 14 days, which can be reduced to 10 days with two negative coronavirus tests.

The new regulation will last for 10 days, with the option for it to be extended.

Foreigners, including those with existing travel permits, will not be able to enter Israel beginning December 23.

During the meeting, Justice Ministry representatives stressed that only in extreme cases, and after all other methods have been exhausted, would authorities use force to compel people to isolate in the hotels.

Brig. Gen. Nissan Davidi, head of the “Alon” Coronavirus Command Center of the taskforce on cutting the chain of infection, said “By Thursday we will be prepared to absorb those returning from abroad in 3,000 rooms in hotels.”

Acting Committee Chairperson MK Rabbi Michael Malchieli (Shas) demanded that the state guarantee adequate living conditions for those who will be required to isolate in corona hotels. “We will not allow people to be taken by force to hotels,” he said.

Prof. Hagai Levine, head of Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, said he was against the new regulations. “The committee must not serve as a rubber stamp,” he said. “Decisions should be reached after [careful consideration], and the proposal that was submitted lacks this. There is no reason to lock everyone up without epidemiological justification. The mutation has been around since September. There are more than 10,000 mutations. We saw the hysteria surrounding the minks. We must act with discretion, not hysteria.”

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