Israel to Ease COVID Quarantine Rules for Vaccinated Amid Spike

YERUSHALAYIM -
Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital team members wearing safety gear as they work in the coronavirus ward of the hospital, Monday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Israel on Tuesday announced it was easing the quarantine rules for fully vaccinated members of the public amid the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he has accepted recommendations of various health officials to ease the compulsory isolation requirement for vaccinated Israelis, who have been exposed to verified COVID carriers. The change is expected to come into effect this coming Wednesday.

As per the new decision fully vaccinated Israelis over the age of five who have come into contact with a confirmed COVID patient, regardless of contracted variant, will be required to undergo a PCR test and remain in self isolation until a negative result is received.

Those who will have come into contact with a carrier, however, will be required to stay away from crowded events and venues, as well as from those considered at-risk, for at least ten days after leaving isolation.

Those not considered fully vaccinated who come into contact with verified patients will be required to enter self-isolation for no less than a week, as well as undergo PCR testing at the beginning and end of the isolation period.

According to the current rule, any Israeli – vaccinated or not – who came into contact with a verified omicron patient is required to enter isolation for no less than two weeks, or one week pending two negative PCR tests.

The decision to ease the requirement for both vaccinated and unvaccinated was made following growing criticism of the current rule by ministers in the coronavirus cabinet, and due to fears that between 800,000 and 1,000,000 Israelis will be sent into quarantine within the next two weeks due to the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.

The changes to the country’s self isolation requirement comes days after the U.S. decided that non-symptomatic COVID patients would be required to enter five days of quarantine, compared to the previous 10-day requirement.

Meanwhile, hundreds of vaccinated foreigners found themselves sent to solitary confinement in hotels, although this is contrary to procedures that allow home isolation for foreigners as well if they are vaccinated.

The issue reached the office of MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher, who contacted senior officials from the Health Ministry and the Population and Immigration Authority and demanded that this scandalous saga be stopped as soon as possible.

Professionals admitted that sending to hotels is not required in the case of three-dose vaccinated, or those who were vaccinated in two doses and have not passed six months after the second vaccination, they promised that the phenomenon would stop immediately and that they would refresh procedures with field officials to make sure things did not change.

At the same time, efforts are continuing to eliminate quarantine in hotels for vaccinated people coming to Israel, which presents an alternative by undertaking home quarantine.