As the government regulations that prevent Israeli citizens from leaving or entering the country through Ben-Gurion Airport until January 31 were approved by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday, a senior health official already suggested that the closure will need to be extended.Experts believe that the spread of highly infectious coronavirus variants represent a major factor in preventing a decline in the number of serious and ventilated patients. This consideration prompted the government to seal the skies in order to prevent further variants to enter the country. The measure will come into effect at midnight.“We must make sure that no more variants come in,” Prof. Sharon Alroy-Preis, head of Public Health Services said before the committee. “We are making every effort to prevent the spread of the South African variant, which might turn out to be even more severe than other strains.” “We must buy enough time for the vaccination campaign to progress and allow Israeli residents to be vaccinated. Six days of airport closure will not suffice,” she added.According to the outline approved by the government, no foreign planes will be allowed into the country except for cargo planes, firefighting planes and flights devoted to medical evacuation.Moreover, the licenses of Israeli airlines have been temporarily suspended. No one will be allowed to leave the country except for receiving medical treatments, participating in legal proceedings or to attend the funeral of a relative. Other requests for humanitarian reasons will be examined and approved on an ad-hoc basis by the directors-general of the Health and Transportation ministries.