Electronic Monitoring of Returnees From Abroad Approved in First Reading

(Health Ministry)

The Knesset plenum on Wednesday approved in its first reading a bill proposing to use electronic tracking devices for enforcing the mandatory isolation of people returning from abroad who wish to isolate at home rather than at a government-run hotel. The bill will now return to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which will prepare it for its second and third readings.

Everyone arriving in the country is required to enter quarantine for 14 days, or 10 days if they test negative for COVID-19 twice during that period. Should someone choose the new system – which includes an electronic bracelet, a phone and a wall-mounted tracker – they can self-isolate at home.

Under the bill, the government will be authorized to declare, in special circumstances, that anyone who enters Israel, or anyone who arrives from certain countries and is obligated to enter quarantine, will be required to isolate at home with an electronic monitoring device, to ensure that the person remains in isolation for the duration of the mandatory quarantine period.

Arrivals will be tested for the virus in Ben Gurion Airport, and if negative, will be able to receive the bracelet. The bracelet can be worn on either the wrist or ankle.

The bracelet will monitor the wearers’ location via Bluetooth and GPS technology and connect to the users’ cell phone. The bracelet monitor will notify authorities should they violate the mandatory isolation period. Many returnees from abroad do not complete the mandatory isolation period.

The explanatory notes attached to the bill state, “During the period of the pandemic, genome sequencing of the virus has shown that it changes through mutations in the structure of its genetic material, and different variants are created that contain characterizing mutations. This situation require us to act in any way possible to prevent the spread of the mutant viruses, which may be carrying properties that can significantly exacerbate the morbidity situation in Israel.”

“Israel cannot afford another exacerbation. We must ‘buy time’ to complete the vaccination drive, which is advancing rapidly in Israel, and at the same time we must prevent the entry of new variants that may make the vaccine less effective,” the bill’s explanatory memorandum states.

Deputy Health Minister MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) presented the bill and said, “In light of the wish to isolate at home, and the police’s difficulty in enforcing [isolation], and in light of the fact that we decided to increase the number of people entering Israel [daily] to 3,000, we added manpower for monitoring, and after a number of examinations, we submitted the bill, which proposes that those entering Israel will be required to isolate in their homes while using an electronic monitoring device – an electronic bracelet or a different [device].”