As Israel rolls out virus rules, dozens rush to exit planes heading for Europe
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As Israel rolls out virus rules, dozens rush to exit planes heading for Europe

After Health Ministry Wednesday announced 14 days’ mandated isolation for those returning from Germany, Spain, France, passengers deplaned from aircraft preparing to leave Tel Aviv

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Screen capture from video of a passenger leaving a flight from Tel Aviv to Berlin after the Health Ministry broadened self-quarantine demands for travelers, March 4, 2010. (Twitter)
Screen capture from video of a passenger leaving a flight from Tel Aviv to Berlin after the Health Ministry broadened self-quarantine demands for travelers, March 4, 2010. (Twitter)

A sudden announcement by the government Wednesday ordering Israelis returning from a slew of European countries to self-quarantine over coronavirus fears caused dozens of passengers who were on planes heading out of Tel Aviv at the time to exit the aircraft rather than face being put in isolation when they come home.

Israelis returning from France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland were instructed to enter self-quarantine for a period of 14 days after their last day in those countries, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced.

The late afternoon announcement caught passengers by surprise at Ben Gurion Airport as they were preparing to take off for their European destinations. Many immediately decided to bail out.

Around 20 passengers got off an easyJet flight to Berlin, a similar number exited an El Al plane heading to Madrid, and around ten passengers skipped their Transavia flight to Paris.

Antonia Yamin, a Kan public broadcaster correspondent for Europe who was on the Berlin flight, recorded the chaos after a flight attendant told passengers already seated on the jet about the fresh government orders.

One passenger immediately asked to be let off the plane, and was then followed by a crowd of others.

In a series of short clips Yamin posted to her Twitter feed, passengers were seen leaving the plane under the stern gaze of cabin crew.

A flight attendant, apparently explaining to passengers the cause of the delay, urged those who were remaining to make a final decision.

“We have a majority who want to travel to Berlin, like me, and the captain and the first officer, so now, because we are all adults, we have to decide now [whether to] stay or go,” she said over the PA system.

Noticing that some passengers were filming her, she quipped “please don’t film me or take photos, I only do [that] under other circumstances.”

After the last passengers who wanted out had left the plane she announced, “So, we all travel together to Berlin” drawing whoops from those who remained on board.

The quarantine decision applied retroactively to all Israelis who have come from those nations in the last 14 days.

Foreign citizens arriving from those countries will not be allowed into Israel unless they can show that they can self-quarantine at a home during their stay.

Netanyahu told a press conference Wednesday that the virus was “a global epidemic,” possibly “one of the most dangerous in the past century.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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