Health Ministry labels all countries 'red'

All travelers returning to Israel will be required to enter quarantine.

Ben-Gurion Airport is empty amid the coronavirus pandemic. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Ben-Gurion Airport is empty amid the coronavirus pandemic.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
All countries are to be designated as red destinations in order to combat the recent spike in coronavirus morbidity rates, the Health Ministry confirmed on Saturday evening.
The significance of the new directive is that Israelis returning from abroad will need to enter quarantine for 14 days. Alternatively, they may choose to be tested upon return to Israel, and again, nine days later. If both tests are negative, quarantine will be shortened to 10 days.
Israelis currently visiting countries that had previously been labeled as green, including the United Arab Emirates, the Seychelles and Rwanda, will be given an extra week, until December 26, to return to Israel without any isolation requirement.
For nearly two weeks, Sharon Alroy-Preis, the head of public health, has been pushing for such a move. She has said that in countries like the UAE, where Israelis are flocking to in the tens of thousands, guidelines are not being followed and they are becoming infected there and bringing the virus back to Israel.
Last week, The Jerusalem Post reported that dozens of Israelis were in isolation in Dubai after testing positive abroad. Hundreds are also in quarantine in Israel after learning that they returned on a flight with verified patients.
“Ben-Gurion Airport, the gateway to a world, has become a loophole,” wrote Prof. Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in an opinion piece published by N12. He said that travelers must be tested, and enforcement of isolation stepped up, adding that “social distancing restrictions must be enforced at Ben-Gurion Airport itself.”
The coronavirus cabinet is expected to meet on Sunday to discuss additional restrictions on other parts of the country.
The Health Ministry had been considering requiring travelers from certain countries to agree to be tested, or otherwise quarantine in a state-run coronavirus hotel. With all countries being designated red, it is unlikely that additional restrictions will be added.