Authorities are reportedly strictly applying mandatory stays in quarantine hotels for all those who arrive in Israel, as officials crack down following repeated incidents in which planeloads of passengers had been allowed to enter the country and travel home without entering quarantine.
Passengers on a flight from New Zealand that arrived on Sunday evening were immediately herded onto a bus and taken to a designated hotel in Jerusalem where they will be required to remain for two weeks under Health Ministry orders, according to a report by Channel 12.
Some of those who were on the specially arranged Lufthansa flight, which reportedly took some 45 hours, including several stops along the way, told the station that police firmly enforced the order.
One passenger said he had rented an apartment in Tel Aviv for the purpose of self-isolation but was nonetheless taken to the quarantine hotel.
Although the passengers’ temperature was taken, they were not tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the report said, citing a passenger.
Travelers complained of the conditions of the hotel rooms, telling of food shortages and noting they were not informed before arrival of the isolation rules.
The cabinet on Sunday approved emergency ordinances requiring all people arriving in Israel from overseas to be housed at state-run quarantine hotels upon entry to the country.
All arrivals will be housed at state-run quarantine hotels for 14 days to ensure they are not infected with the coronavirus.
In light of the new agreements, Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the few flights still coming to Israel would resume, after they were frozen by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday morning until the issue of quarantine was addressed.
The new action came after it became clear that incoming passengers to Israel were not all being quarantined despite Netanyahu’s orders last week, and that arrivals on numerous flights were being allowed to enter the country and go home, sometimes via taxi, without being required to enter state-overseen quarantine or even having their temperatures checked.
On Saturday morning, some 70 passengers on a United Airlines flight from the virus-stricken New York area arrived at Ben Gurion Airport and were allowed to travel home. The flight had received exceptional approval from authorities to land in Israel despite the current lockdown.