Coronavirus: Israel demands quarantine for anyone crossing borders

Israel took unprecedented measures in light of the Coronavirus and announced a 14-day home quarantine for every single person who enters Israel, no matter their country of origin. 

The new directive announced on Monday affects everyone entering Israel — both Israelis and foreigners alike — effectively shuttering tourism ahead of the busiest season of the year with both Passover and Easter coming up next month.

The policy went into effect immediately for Israelis and on Thursday for foreigners. This will put some 240,000 Israelis in home quarantine, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri estimated. 

For foreigners who still choose to come to Israel despite the new policy, they must guarantee they will complete a two-week quarantine and provide authorities with their location, otherwise they will not be allowed into the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a difficult decision, but that “it is necessary to maintain public health, and public health is above all else. The decision will be in effect for the next two weeks.”

“We have had extensive discussions on the course of action,” Netanyahu said. “We are not talking about closing our gates completely but considering quarantine for anyone coming into the country – Israelis, and foreigners.”

Despite such severe measures to try to contain the virus, Health Department officials expect the situation to deteriorate with tens of thousands of patients potentially being affected by coronavirus in Israel in the coming weeks. 

“Unfortunately, the situation is unpreventable. Many of these patients will need to go to the hospital,” Health Ministry director general Prof. Itamar Grotto predicted.

As of Wednesday, Israel had 76 cases of the virus and no deaths.

The Israeli economy, on the other hand, is taking a major hit and the head of Israel’s labor union called it an “economic Yom Kip