Will Israelis be able to travel for Passover? It depends

For those who have a vaccination or recovery certificate, the next question is whether the country they wish to visit will allow them in.

Travel during corona (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Travel during corona
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Israelis who wish to travel abroad for Passover should be able to do so, regardless of their vaccination status, as Israel’s skies are expected to reopen on Sunday, at least for its own citizens.
Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levi said on Thursday that stating there will not be any new regulations, apart from the ones in place that were not affected by the High Court ruling on Wednesday that struck down the government’s travel restrictions.
That ruling banned a limit on the number of people allowed into the airport and approved coronavirus test requirements and mandatory isolation for those who have not been immunized.
Following the High Court’s decision, which was harshly criticized by Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and other health officials, government officials have reportedly been trying to prevent a complete reopening of the skies, but this would need to be approved by the government before Saturday night.
According to Channel 12, Health and Transportation ministry officials were considering maintaining a cap of 6,000-8,000 passengers per day in both directions based on the number of people that the airport can accommodate while maintaining safe social distancing.
Before the pandemic, tens of thousands of passengers passed through Ben-Gurion Airport each day, so if such a limit is to be implemented, aircraft traffic would still remain very low.
Asked which new guidelines the Health Ministry was going to recommend, Levi explained that “the regulations will be what is left intact by the court’s decision. There are no new regulations at this time.
“First of all, both passengers who return and who leave have to adhere to the requirements of the Purple Ribbon,” he explained, referring to the standards set by the ministry for businesses to operate during the pandemic. These include limits on the number of people allowed in closed spaces, minimum distances between each person, and the obligation to wear a mask.
“Those who are returning to Israel have to take a coronavirus test,” Levi added. “However, the most important thing as the skies reopen further, and more people can enter the country, is to strictly observe the quarantine requirements, not to go around, not to spread the infection, even when an infection has not yet been identified.”
While people who have an official vaccination certificate or a recovery certificate are exempt from quarantine, everyone else, including children or those vaccinated abroad, are obliged to isolate, at least until they undergo a serological test to prove that they have sufficient antibodies in their blood.
The difficulty in enforcing quarantine and the high level of infractions were repeatedly described by the government as the reason for maintaining travel restrictions, in order to prevent new corona variants from entering the country.
On Wednesday, the Knesset also approved legislation considered essential for enforcing an effective quarantine. Travelers returning from abroad to quarantine at home must wear an electronic bracelet or isolate at a hotel, to ensure that people do not break the isolation rules.
“We are working on the issue of quarantine enforcement, both by increasing manpower, police officers, inspectors and so on, and by using electronic tools,” Levi said at his news briefing.
While other health officials accused the court of acting irresponsibly, Levi said that the ruling was completely legitimate, but it remains a cause for concern because of the virus variants.
“As Israeli citizens, and as public figures, we completely accept the High Court’s decision even though we believe that there are dangers related to possible infections and the entrance of variants,” he stated. “We will do everything we can to examine it and will act to reduce morbidity.”
Ben-Gurion Airport officially resumed activities on March 7, after having been almost completely shut down for a month and a half, although significant limitations remained on Israelis able to travel.
Only 3,000 Israelis have been allowed to enter the country every day, on flights operated only from limited destinations. In addition, those not fully vaccinated or recovered from corona have not been able to leave unless they receive permission from a special governmental committee, on the basis of very specific humanitarian needs.
This created many hurdles for those who wished to return to the country to vote in Tuesday’s election, as well as for families who had hoped to travel to visit relatives overseas, since children – who are not yet eligible for vaccination – could not leave freely.