Knesset Approves Electronic Bracelets for Returning Travelers

YERUSHALAYIM -
Police set up temporary roadblocks at the Ein Hemed junction, on Feb. 3. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

​The Knesset plenum on Wednesday passed into law 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.

Under the bill, which was approved in its third and final reading, 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. Those who refuse to be monitored electronically, or do not meet the requirements determined by law, will be sent to a government-run hotel for quarantine.

Certain individuals will be permitted to isolate at home without electronic supervision, including individuals who receive a special permit from the Exceptions Committee (from the director general of the Health Ministry or someone on his behalf). Individuals may also be exempt for health or humanitarian reasons. Children under age 14, or those who have been appointed a guardian, will be able to isolate at home without electronic monitoring.

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.

The explanatory notes attached to the bill state, “The entry of a new variant with increased infection capability and resilience to the vaccination may, according to existing information, threaten the efficacy of the vaccinations that have already been given to millions of Israel’s residents (one dose or two doses). There is a heightened danger that people entering Israel from abroad will bring with them these or other variants, and they will spread quickly, as was the case with the English variant. A new variant is almost always detected when it is too late to prevent its spreading.

“Inoculating the majority of the population is the chosen strategy for exiting the pandemic, and a new variant that may cause resiliency to the vaccination creates a genuine concern that the main weapon for curbing the pandemic will be taken away.”

Such a variant, the bill’s explanatory memorandum states, may cause repeated infection among those who have recovered from corona, and thus may lead to increased morbidity and death rates. Such a variant, according to the bill, could pose a “real danger to public health, and prompt measures are required to block it.”