Coronavirus Intensifies: New directives for public transport in Israel

Public transport will continue to operate as usual, although a manpower shortage may be an issue in the future.

‘WITHIN ANY arrangement in Israel it is critical to ensure that no one is forced to work on Shabbat, as in the case of bus drivers or construction workers.’ (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
‘WITHIN ANY arrangement in Israel it is critical to ensure that no one is forced to work on Shabbat, as in the case of bus drivers or construction workers.’
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
As the coronavirus outbreak intensifies, Israel's Transportation Ministry announced new directives for public transport throughout the country, including a ban on standing passengers on intercity trips.
The new directives also forbid bus passengers from sitting in the front row of seats.
Some bus drivers are being provided with hand sanitizer by transportation companies. Bus drivers have been instructed to keep windows open as much as possible. Drivers who don't feel well will need to report it and will need to be checked before returning to work.
 
Public transport will continue to operate as usual, although a manpower shortage may be an issue in the future, the ministry said.
"Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, we have considered the effects on the transport sector every moment before the National Security Council and the Health Ministry," said Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich. "We will do everything in order to minimize the infection rate of the virus. We have a heavy responsibility on our shoulders and we have been relating to the prevention and minimization steps with the utmost seriousness from the beginning of the outbreak."
The new directives came at the same time as the Israel Railways workers union sent a letter to the company’s CEO Michael Maixner and Smotrich calling on them to help enforce measures against passengers who arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport from countries that require quarantine but who get on the train.
The letter was sent in the aftermath of a release by the Health Ministry that patient No. 27 traveled from the airport to his home in Acre via public transportation, despite being notified in advance that he needed to enter quarantine, which included not being allowed to use public transportation.
The patient returned on March 5 from Vienna, Austria and took the 6:05 p.m. train from the airport northward towards Nahariya, getting off at the Acre station at 8:04 p.m.
The train line he took, line 176, begins in Modi'in, passes through Ben-Gurion Airport, and ends at Nahariya.
The Health Ministry confirmed late Sunday night that anyone who was on the train at that time is required to enter quarantine at home and to notify the ministry over the phone to number *5400.
Last week, the transportation workers union sent Smotrich a separate letter asking that the ministry provide drivers with gloves, masks, hand sanitizers and or other means to protect them against the thousands of passengers they come into contact with on a daily basis.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.