Israel Halts Inbound and Outbound Flights to Curb Spread of COVID Variants

Israel Halts Inbound and Outbound Flights to Curb Spread of COVID Variants 1

Israel has banned most inbound and outbound flights, from midnight between Monday and Tuesday until the end of the country’s nationwide lockdown, in an attempt to slow the spread of novel coronavirus variants.

Under the ban, planes of foreign airlines are not allowed to land in Israel until January 31, when Israel’s third and current nationwide coronavirus lockdown is slated to end. In addition, exiting the country is limited to exceptional circumstances. Israeli airlines aren’t allowed to operate regular flights under these restrictions.

Flights can leave Israel only for the purposes of overseas medical treatment, legal proceedings, or funerals of a relative. The directors-general of the health and transportation ministries have the authority to approve exceptional requests due to humanitarian or personal needs, according to a joint statement from the Health Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday evening. 

The new regulations also apply to private planes. Foreign cargo planes, firefighting planes, and medical emergency flights are exempt from the restriction on foreign incoming flights.  “For the first time,” under the ban, Jews will not be allowed to immigrate to Israel, “unless it is a matter of life or death,” said Transportation Minister Miri Regev on Sunday. 

The flight ban was approved by the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee and Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday, after having received cabinet approval on Sunday. “We are ahead of the entire world. No nation has done what we are about to do – we are hermetically sealing the country,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Sunday’s government meeting during which the ban was approved.

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