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Bill requiring electronic bracelets for quarantined travelers passes 1st vote

Proposal needs committee review and 2 more Knesset readings to become law; those refusing device would be isolated at state-run facility

Passengers arriving on a flight from Frankfurt take part in the pilot program of wearing electronic bracelets upon arrival in Israel, on March 01, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Passengers arriving on a flight from Frankfurt take part in the pilot program of wearing electronic bracelets upon arrival in Israel, on March 01, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A bill that would require those returning to Israel to self-isolate at home with an electronic bracelet or other technological means was approved in its first Knesset reading on Wednesday.

The proposal will now go to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee before it is sent back to the Knesset, where it requires two more votes to become law.

The bracelet would be worn on either the wrist or the ankle and monitor the wearer’s location via Bluetooth and GPS, connected to a provided cellphone.

According to the bill, those who refuse to wear a bracelet, or are unable to isolate at home, would be required to stay at one of the government-run quarantine hotels as an alternative.

Passengers arriving on a flight from Frankfurt are given electronic monitoring bracelets to ensure they don’t violate quarantine. at Ben Gurion Airport, March 1, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A previous law forcing returnees to stay in government-run quarantine hotels expired on Saturday night, sending travelers home, where they are theoretically subject to police checks on their whereabouts. The punishment for violating the rules is a fine of NIS 5,000 ($1,500).

Around 100 people participated in an electronic bracelet pilot program earlier this month.

Passengers arriving on a flight from Frankfurt take part in the pilot program of wearing electronic bracelets upon arrival in Israel, on March 01, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Travelers carrying documentation showing they have completed a two-shot virus vaccination or those who have recovered from the virus can skip quarantine, provided they have a virus test just before, and on arrival in the country, with both tests being negative.

Israel on Sunday eased restrictions on air travel to the country, enabling thousands of citizens to return home.

Israel’s land and air gateways have been largely closed since January 25, leaving thousands unable to return. Ben Gurion Airport has been shuttered for all but a few special flights by Israeli and some foreign airlines to bring back citizens stranded abroad.

Under the new rules, 3,000 Israelis are permitted to enter the country every day. Special exceptions from the daily quota are being granted to new immigrants who can’t delay their arrival to the country, essential foreign workers, relatives of Israelis who need to visit under extraordinary circumstances and professional athletes.

A border crossing with Jordan is being opened up twice a week, and the border with Egypt will be opened once to allow any Israelis there to return. Those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 are able to leave at will to Jordan, although the Taba crossing into Egypt will remain shut.

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