Israel Bans Passenger Flights to Curb COVID-19 Spread

The empty departure halls of Ben Gurion International Airport, during a nationwide lockdown, October 12. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel on Sunday decided to ban incoming and outgoing passenger flights from Monday at midnight (local time) in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and new coronavirus strains.

The government approved the near-total ban on all air travel, a day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held deliberations on the plan with the Health Minister, Transportation Minister, head of the National Security Council, the directors general of the Health and Transportation Ministries, the coronavirus commissioner, the head of the Health Services in the Health Ministry, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Attorney General, and other senior officials.

“We’re ahead of the whole world,” said Netanyahu at the opening of the Cabinet meeting Sunday. “No other country has done what we’re going to do now. We are going to hermetically seal the country.

“During this week of closed skies we will vaccinate another million Israelis.”

Under the proposal, the government will be able to extend the travel ban beyond the initial date of January 31.

While travelers will be barred from entering Israel in nearly all cases, exceptions will be made for humanitarian cases on special chartered flights.

Travelers needing to leave the country will be allowed to do so only if they are granted special permission for “exceptional circumstances.”