All Passengers Entering Israel Will Need a Negative Coronavirus Test Within 72 Hours of Takeoff

YERUSHALAYIM -
A technician collects nasal swab samples for COVID-19 at the coronavirus lab in Ben Gurion Airport. (Flash90)

The Economic Affairs Committee chaired by MK Rabbi Yaakov Margi (Shas) approved on Wednesday a government decision that all passengers entering Israel from abroad would need to present a negative coronavirus test performed within 72 hours of takeoff, or present a “recovered” or “inoculated” certificate issued on behalf of the Health Ministry. Failure to provide a negative test will result in a NIS 2,500 fine.

The decision is scheduled to go into effect at midnight between Friday and Saturday in order to give airlines and passengers ample time to prepare. Att. Tal Fuchs of the Ministry of Health noted that Israelis wishing to travel for humanitarian purposes or for special personal needs may file a request with the Exceptions Committee.

Gil Stav, VP Marketing and Sales at Israir Group, said, “The airlines have become police officers for every entry into the country. The fines on the airline companies are raised. We are working with stations abroad, and three days is not enough to train all the teams to recognize every document, so there will be difficulties initially.”

Committee Chairman MK Margi said in response: “When it is a business-related or financial matter you have proven that you know how to work also within 24 hours.”

MK Boaz Toporovsky (Yesh Atid-Telem) said, “This government is in one big panic. The Ben Gurion Airport fiasco is a national fiasco that will be investigated and examined by an inquiry commission that will surely be established. All the corona and all its mutations were imported through Ben Gurion Airport. They wanted to bring the decision for approval in the middle of the night to avoid a public debate and to allow people to arrive. It’s good that it happened and we will vote in favor of it, but it’s a shame that it happened after 4,000 deaths.”

Committee Chairman Rabbi Margi said, “In all fairness, we have to mention that the Economic Affairs Committee was also among those who pushed for opening the skies.”

MK Rabbi Yitzchak Pindrus (UTJ) said, “The corona is a hardship for the citizens and a celebration for the politicians. They can sit one day and demand to open the airports, and on the next day cry out, ‘Why were the airports opened?’ The country is dealing with a crisis unlike any other. The whole world is dealing, and we try to do our best every day. This is the right thing to do, and it must be done.”

Eight committee members voted in favor of the regulations. MK Iman Khatib-Yasin (Joint List) voted against them.