Knesset Committee Eases Quarantine Requirement for Vaccinated and Recovered Returning to Israel​​

YERUSHALAYIM -
The COVID-19 testing area at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, chaired by MK Efrat Rayten Marom (Labor), convened on Thursday and approved the People’s Health Order easing restrictions on vaccinated and recovering individuals with regard to the quarantine requirement for people returning from abroad. The order, which goes into effect on Friday, stipulates that upon returning from a nonprohibited country, people belonging to the groups detailed below will not be subject to a full quarantine, but rather to a 24-hour quarantine, or until receiving a negative result from the test performed at the airport:

  • 1. People who have received their third vaccination;
  • 2. People who have received their second vaccination, up to six months from the date of receiving the second dose;
  • 3. Recovering individuals, up to six months from the date of receiving the recovery certificate—based on the date of a positive PCR test;
  • 4. Recovering individuals who have received a vaccination dose after their recovery.

Committee Chair MK Rayten Marom welcomed the initiative to ease the restrictions, saying: “During the approval of the previous order, we requested to take into account the latest changes in the map of protection [from the coronavirus], and to consider easing quarantine requirements for protected individuals in accordance with the data and updated epidemiological information. We welcome the current order and are asking to hear about the data and the considerations that led to its signing.”

In the meeting, it was clarified that the term “recovering” can be applied based on a positive PCR test result during the illness or on findings of a serological test that indicate an illness in the past.

During the meeting, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of Public Health Services at the Ministry of Health, said: “When the fourth wave began, we saw extensive morbidity among vaccinated people returning from abroad. The initial strategy was to act according to the level of risk in particular countries, but at a certain stage we understood that we had to quarantine people returning from nearly the entire world, including those who were vaccinated. Data from the past weeks show that 91% of the vaccinated people who returned sick were over five months after the second vaccination. The risk of ‘freshly-vaccinated’ people, who recently received their second or third vaccination, to become infected is very low. The fear of new variants is still valid, and we have a responsibility to put countries in which such variants exist on the list of red [prohibited] countries, but we are setting that aside at the moment.”

Dr. Alroy-Preis stated that all the definitions of “protected” people were due to be changed soon, and that starting from October 1, even a Green Pass that is currently defined as valid until the end of the year would be shortened based on the criteria listed above. She said: “Today we understand that protection [against the coronavirus] has validity.”

Tali Laufer, CEO of the Israel Association of Travel Agencies and Consultants: “We welcome this necessary decision. The timetable here is not accidental; the change of approach and canceling the unnecessary quarantine is being done after we filed a petition with the High Court of Justice and the state was supposed to reply to the arguments presented in it.” Laufer also raised again the issue of the economic harm suffered by many businesses in her field, due to the frequent changes in the coronavirus orders: “We have suffered immense economic harm and I am asking the committee to call upon the state to determine compensation for businesses that were harmed.”