After a stormy day of discussions and disputes between various arms of government, it was decided this evening that all people arriving in Israel will have to self-quarantine. The decision will affect about 200,000 people, and will be in effect for two weeks from 8 pm this evening.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "After twenty-four hours of complex discussions we have made a decision: anyone arriving in Israel from overseas will be isolated for fourteen days. This is a tough decision, but it is vital in order to safeguard the health of the public, and the health of the public comes before everything. This decision will be in effect for two weeks. At the same time, we are making decisions in order to safeguard Israel's economy."
Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri said, "retroactively imposing isolation on everyone who has returned from overseas would be too harsh a measure for the public to bear. I am aware of the heavy damage to the Israeli economy and the economic burden, but we are a small, crowded country, and there is fear of contagion."
The Israel Hotel Association said in a statement: "The prime minister's decision this evening is in effect the wiping out of tourism to Israel and represents a mortal blow to the hotels and the airlines. We should like to believe that the government whose decision ruins our businesses will compensate the hotels immediately."
El Al will announce changes to its schedule this evening following the dramatic announcement. The company intends to maintain connections by air to Israel but in a reduced format.
The recommendation to Israelis abroad is to bring forward their return to Israel because the flight schedule is liable to change in line with plummeting demand. El Al also has to place its crews in quarantine. About 250 of its aircrew, half of them pilots, are already in quarantine. Anyone holding an El Al flight ticket can call the airline's service centers and change their flight date.
There have been 42 reported cases of coronavirus in Israel so far.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 9, 2020
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