Israel closed its borders to non-citizens at midnight November 28 in an effort to block the Omicron coronavirus variant from spreading to the country, as new entry rules entered effect, Report informs referring to The Times of Israel.
Israelis returning home will now be placed under a tightened quarantine regime and can be subjected to controversial phone tracking by the Shin Bet security service if confirmed to have the new strain.
The measures, valid for two weeks, were approved on November 27 by the cabinet. Two people in Israel have been diagnosed with the Omicron variant, a highly mutated and infectious COVID-19 virus first detected in South Africa. Several others are suspected of having the virus.
Under the new rules, all Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated against COVID-19, must take a PCR test at Ben Gurion Airport when they arrive and then immediately go into home quarantine.
Vaccinated arrivals must spend at least three days in quarantine and then take another PCR test. A negative result grants exit from quarantine. Those who don’t take the second test must stay in quarantine for a total of 14 days.
Unvaccinated Israelis who have not recovered from the disease must spend at least seven days in quarantine and then take a PCR test, with a negative result enabling them to end isolation. Those who don’t take the second test must stay in quarantine for a total of 14 days. Failure to take another PCR test at the end of the 14 days will result in a fine, the Ynet website reported.
Under the new rules, all arrivals are barred from using public transportation to leave the airport. Exiting the airport is possible by a private vehicle, by being collected by relatives, or by a taxi, in accordance with rules published by the Transportation Ministry.
However, Israelis arriving from countries on the government’s “red” list - meaning countries with high COVID-19 infection rates or with Omicron cases - must take a PCR test at the airport and then immediately enter one of the country’s two state-run quarantine hotels, located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. If the PCR test taken at the airport is negative, returnees can continue their quarantine at home, staying isolated for seven days and then taking a second PCR test.
The hotel quarantine rules for arrival from red countries came into effect already at 6 p.m. on November 28.
The new rules, banning entry for non-nationals and stricter quarantine for Israelis, will remain in place for two weeks until December 7.