Airport to stay open, buses cut to 50% capacity

Police to fine people who travel outside their zones.

PEOPLE TRAVEL on a bus in Jerusalem this week. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
PEOPLE TRAVEL on a bus in Jerusalem this week.
Israel is just days away from its second lockdown and the public is still unsure about some of the details of the closure, which is expected to go into effect at 2 p.m. on Friday. However, the Transportation Ministry did release a plan for buses, trains and the airport.
Israel Police plan to deploy across the country hundreds of roadblocks to stop people from visiting and eating their Rosh Hashanah meals with their families who live more than 500 meters from them.
Police said that Israelis who travel outside their districts and try to drive back in late at night or the next morning will be fined NIS 500 per person in the vehicle and sent back in the direction from which they came. Perpetrators who are caught attempting to enter through another direction will be given additional fines.
The feeling is that Israelis are not afraid of the coronavirus, police said, but that they are very afraid of being fined.
Sunday and Monday were days of expected but high infection: Some 3,192 people were diagnosed with the virus on Sunday and more than 2,500 between midnight and press time on Monday. The number of serious patients hit a peak at 524, including 142 in serious condition.
Eleven more people died Monday, bringing the death toll to 1,136.
Buses will operate at 50% capacity and will cease to run on the weekends during the upcoming lockdown, according to the Transportation Ministry.
Minister Miri Regev released the plan for Israel’s public transport on Monday, which includes buses running Sundays through Thursdays from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and halting intercity service on Friday and Saturday evenings and before holidays. Inner-city buses will operate on Fridays and Saturdays.
Israel Railways will also operate Sundays through Thursday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets will need to be purchased in advance.
“The decision to close was not an easy one, but it is a necessity,” Regev said.
As part of the new protocol, passengers will be forbidden from sitting behind drivers unless a special plexiglass partition has been installed to protect the driver from the spread of coronavirus.
Municipal and intercity taxis will continue to operate according to their normal outline.
The ministry emphasized that the lines that will be operated are the ones that will ensure the ability for people to go to and from work and to obtain essential needs.
“The public transport industry will provide an answer for those who are working during the days of the lockdown,” Regev added.
Other lines, including night lines, student lines, academy lines and others will cease to operate.
“Enforcement will be carried out to prevent the use of the public transportation system for non-essential needs and in violation of the closure,” the statement read.
On the flip side, Israelis who purchased tickets to fly over the holidays will still be able to travel.
Regev, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, Interior Minister Arye Deri and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi agreed on an air travel outline on Monday, as well.
According to the plan, Israelis will be allowed to leave and enter Israel through Ben-Gurion Airport, which will continue to operate in accordance with Purple Ribbon standards.
Citizens leaving the country must present a valid ticket four hours before their flight and then they will be allowed to travel more than 500 meters from their home to arrive at the airport.
Citizens returning to Israel from green countries will not be required to enter isolation but will be subject to the lockdown rules enforced throughout the rest of the country.
Israelis traveling back from red states will still be required to quarantine.
Travelers should check the Health Ministry website before and during travel, as some countries that were formerly green are becoming red.
As per the current instructions, all travelers must have taken a coronavirus test within 72 hours of their flight and be able to present a negative result upon arrival in their host country.
In addition, new immigrants will still be allowed to enter the country during closure.
The statement from the ministry stressed that no newly purchased tickets will be honored – only tickets purchased before Israel  locks down.
At the same time, the IDF decided that no curfew would be imposed on soldiers and that they can travel home to their families. Also, Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch clarified that children will be able to travel between the homes of their divorced parents.
“This issue is regulated and will be excluded from the traffic restrictions included in the closure,” Kisch wrote on Facebook.
He said that in recent days he received dozens of inquiries from parents who were concerned about the transfer of their children during the impending closure.
Israel’s basketball and soccer teams will also continue to train and play.
But not all answers were forthcoming. While the outline released by the government explained that the education system, customer-facing businesses, retail and places for leisure and recreation would be closed, it is still unclear if this list includes beauty salons and hairdressers.
Restaurants will be allowed to deliver food, the outline said. What about takeaway? It is still unclear.
Finally, the release by the government ensured that people can do sports activities on their own. But which sports and will they be allowed to be performed more than 500 meters from home has still not been defined.