Israel imposes tough new travel restrictions over coronavirus fears

Israel imposes tough new travel restrictions over coronavirus fears
Israel has imposed new travel restrictions barring entry to citizens of five European countries unless they can prove they can self-quarantine.
2 min read
04 March, 2020
New travel restrictions will affect Europeans arriving in Israel [Getty]

Israel on Wednesday imposed tough new travel restrictions on five European nations due to fears of coronavirus, barring entry to non-residents unless they can prove they can self-quarantine.

Israel also ordered all citizens and residents returning from the five countries - France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland - into 14-day home quarantine if they enter Israeli territory.

The measures, which the health ministry said would come into effect "in the coming days", come on top of similar restrictions previously imposed on arrivals from mainland China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan and Italy.

"We are at the peak of a global epidemic," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during his announcement of the latest travel bans.

"We are in a better situation than other countries because, since the beginning, I have given instructions to the maximum possible, not the minimum" level of precaution.

Read also: How the Middle East is dealing with coronavirus

"And we have taken strict, very strict measures, to slow the spread of the virus," Netanyahu added.

The health ministry guidelines say that foreigners from the affected European countries "will not be able to enter Israeli territory unless they can prove they have a place to stay in quarantine."

Israel currently has 15 confirmed cases of the virus but no deaths, with some 7,000 others already in home-quarantine.

In elections on Monday, thousands of people under quarantine voted at special polling stations staffed by officials in full protective gear.

The health ministry on Wednesday ordered a ban on public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

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