Coronavirus Committee reviews airport procedures

Some Israelis have complained that travelers returning from destinations known to be red have not been carefully monitored is an outrage.

THE EMPTY arrival hall at Ben-Gurion Airport on March 11. (photo credit: FLASH90)
THE EMPTY arrival hall at Ben-Gurion Airport on March 11.
(photo credit: FLASH90)
The Coronavirus Committee toured the testing laboratory at Ben-Gurion Airport Tuesday and received a briefing on the procedures for incoming and outgoing passengers.
The visit follows controversy this week when it was revealed that measures for monitoring passengers returning from abroad, including countries deemed red, has been extremely lax. On Monday, the coronavirus cabinet approved the tightening of regulations for returning travelers and said that coronavirus testing will be required for all those who return to the country from abroad, and especially for those arriving from red countries. Anyone who is not tested will be required to enter a coronavirus hotel.
The committee's chairman, MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, emphasized, “We must find another way to manage the crisis correctly. A way that will take all the health, mental and economic consequences into account.”
During the airport visit Tuesday, Shasha-Biton suggested checking the procedure for conducting two negative tests for those entering the country, the first upon entry and the second after 5-7 days, thus shortening the isolation period, so that it would be possible to open the sky and encourage the public to be tested. The airport is prepared to accommodate many passengers, while conducting a large number of tests, all according to regulations.
Amnon Shmueli, director of border control at the Population Authority, warned that there is currently no way to enforce isolation for those entering the country, even for those who announce in advance that they do not intend to enter isolation.
Shoshi Eisenberg-Hertz, a lawyer who is a representative of the Health Ministry at the airport, spoke about discussions in her office to shorten the isolation period to only 10 days, while lawyer David Sprecher, who prepared an outline for procedures at the airport, claimed that the senior officials in the Health Ministry oppose its inspection and  implementation.
According to reports, as many as 4% of passengers returning to Israel from Turkey and Serbia are infected with the coronavirus in recent weeks.
Travelers from many countries visiting Israel have complained that they were not given clear guidelines at the airport about how to handle the coronavirus isolation and testing and that when they tried to reach the Health Ministry for clarification, they could not get through.
Some Israelis have complained that the fact that even travelers returning from destinations known to be red have not been carefully monitored is an outrage, given the many restrictions the government has placed on society.
Comedian/actor Nadav Abuksis confronted Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy Tuesday morning on the Niv Raskin show on Channel 12, asking why flights to and from red countries are allowed, but cultural events even with small numbers of masked audience members in large halls are still forbidden. Levy said that cultural events would be permitted in the next phase of the plan for reopening the country and that enforcement of those arriving in Israel from abroad needed close monitoring.
It was not clear on Tuesday morning how the night curfew proposed to begin Wednesday would impact the airport and flights.