Israel Tightens Coronavirus Restrictions Amid New Surge

YERUSHALAYIM -
Healthcare workers take test samples of Israelis in a drive-through complex to check if they have been infected with COVID-19, in Ramle. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israel tightened coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday to slow the spread of coronavirus variants following a recent surge detected in Israel and caused, at least in part, by infections brought back from abroad.

Health Ministry director-general Prof. Chezy Levi said that the Israeli population was not fully protected as herd immunity has not yet kicked in and that the uptick was a cause for concern.

“We must prevent travel to destinations where the virus is rampant and revamp our quarantine policies,” Levi said in an interview with Kan Public Radio.

Travelers leaving the country would be required to sign a declaration stating that they would not enter countries designated as virus hotspots, including Russia, India, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

The form will also list the penalties for giving a false statement, including a fine of NIS 5,000 for breach of quarantine.

“The recent spike in COVID-19 cases that could cause community spread requires the Health Ministry to take steps to prevent further contagion,” the ministry said, adding that it was concerned over renewed morbidity among the elderly population.

The ministry decided to authorize senior health officials to impose quarantine on vaccinated Israelis or those who had recovered from the disease if they had been in high-risk countries.

Quarantine could also be imposed on people who had come in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient carrying the Delta variant or other highly transmissible virus strains, or if they come into contact with high-risk populations in their line of work.

Parents of children found violating coronavirus quarantine would be subjected to fines, the ministry said.