Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Saturday night that all flights to Israel would be canceled pending the adoption of emergency measures that would allow all passengers to be placed in supervised solitary confinement under the orders of the IDF Home Front.
Netanyahu said Israeli airplanes that are already in the air could land, but all traffic stopped then. The policy will remain in effect after the closing is complete.
The prime minister’s decision follows the return of some 70 Israelis who landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport in New Jersey on Saturday morning and were sent to taxis in their homes without masks. Air passengers said that when the plane landed, a representative from the Ministry of Health boarded the plane and had it isolated for the next 14 days.
One passenger said that no one took the temperature and two others walked through the airport without protective equipment. Passengers signed statements promising to be isolated, but said no one had collected the forms. They were ordered to be quarantined, although Netanyahu said earlier this month that all Israeli flying people would be taken to an official isolation building as soon as they landed.
“The thing is to reduce the number of arrivals as much as possible and send all Israelis returning to isolation facilities,” the Health Ministry said in a statement, adding that Magen David Adam’s team measures the temperature of all passenger arrivals and ask if they have any arrival. Common symptoms of COVID-19.
An incoming passenger, Idan Lieberman, said the situation at the airport was inconsistent. “No one took my temperature, here or in the United States,” he said. “Nobody asked me where I was going, nothing. It’s a shame. I don’t think I’m sick, but who knows who was sick? ”
Another passenger, who asked not to be identified, said he had called the day before to check in at the airport and was told he would be served by the Home Front. “As you can see, there is no forward order here,” he said.
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Another passenger said he decided to take a taxi home. “I’ve been in the United States for five months and I’m not afraid to infect the driver because I assume I took the coronavirus during my stay and it’s over,” he said. He added that a relative could have asked for a ride, “but I was afraid to infect them because I might be sick, so I decided to go to the cabin.”
Danny Sapir, a taxi driver who picked up one of the passengers, said he had no choice but to work. “That price of 170 sheel ($ 48) for Tel Aviv is valid for me because there is no work. I drive with the windows open, spray (disinfect) every few minutes, use a hand cleaner, but in the end you don’t know who you’re driving with. “Sapir said he retired two weeks after driving an isolated coronavirus passenger,” and now I’m back. I don’t have a job without an airport. ”
A small number of passengers, including a family who reported staying in the Dominican Republic, had to be taken to a hotel in Tiberias, which is used as a quarantine facility after they said they had nowhere to isolate them for two weeks. .
“It is much safer in Israel than in the United States,” said one of the passengers, adding: “I find it hard to believe that people are lying about having a place to isolate, everyone understands how important it is.”
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Interior Minister Arye Dery and Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich had in principle approved the organization of a daily United Airlines flight between Israel and the United States. Upon disembarkation, responsibility for passengers is transferred to the Ministry of Health and the Domestic Front. ”
After obtaining permission from the Ministries of Interior, Health and Transport, United Airlines flew a scheduled flight to Ben-Gurion International Airport every day. According to an official at the Israeli Airport Authority, six more approved commercial flights landed at the airport from Wednesday to Saturday night, in addition to several private flights. The health ministry said in a statement that its recommendations are “very clear: it is important to reduce the number of flights to the maximum”.
The emergency rules approved by the Cabinet on April 2 specify that all persons who return to Israel will be placed in a quarantine facility administered by the government on arrival, unless the “official authority” – a representative of the Ministry of Health or Front Intern at the airport – is convinced that they can get home or elsewhere to isolate themselves. In practice, the state makes a declaration signed by each passenger stating that they can stay at home. Only people who say they cannot be admitted to an official quarantine facility. The police are implementing isolation in homes and law enforcement officials say the authorities visit 95% of Israelis who return from abroad to make sure they are not violating the quarantine.
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