The Health Ministry announced on Friday that all travelers, including those vaccinated and recovered from COVID-19, would be required to self-isolate for up to 24 hours upon arrival to the country, starting next week.
Meanwhile, those returning from 16 countries deemed to have high rates of infection will be required to fully self-isolate for 14 days, or 10 days with two negative tests, according to the ministry’s updated guidelines, which will go into effect on July 16.
The countries considered to have high infection rates as of Friday are: the United Arab Emirates, Seychelles, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan and Tunisia.
Those returning from all other countries will also need to enter self-isolation, but for just 24 hours, or until they receive a negative test result, which they would conduct upon landing.
It is expected that test results would be delivered within 24 hours, to ensure that returnees from non-high-risk countries, but are infected with COVID-19, don’t infect others.
Israelis who are vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 had been exempt from quarantine upon returning to the country until now, unless they were returning from the countries to which travel is banned for health reasons.
The Health Ministry on Friday also updated the list of countries with extreme rates of infection, to which Israelis are barred from flying to unless a government committee approves their request. The countries that are off-limits for Israelis are: Uzbekistan, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia.
Israelis who enter the country after visiting any of those countries can face a NIS 5,000 ($1,500) fine, and will also be required to enter quarantine until receiving a valid negative test.
Last month, the Health Ministry introduced regulations requiring all Israelis leaving the country to sign a form declaring they will not visit countries on the “red” list.
The new restrictions for returnees are set to take effect from Friday, July 16, and are valid until July 25, but are likely to be extended further if cases continue to rise.
However, the resurgence of COVID-19 in Israel appeared to taper off slightly on Friday, with new ministry figures showing 450 new cases diagnosed the day before, after three days in which the daily caseload surpassed 500. Of the 71,261 tests performed Thursday, 0.7 percent came back positive, similar to the rate in recent days, but slightly higher than last month’s positivity rate, which hovered near zero on some days.
There are 3,691 active virus cases in the country, Health Ministry data showed, while the death toll rose to 6,434.
Health officials have linked the recent spike in infections in Israel to travelers who brought back new variants of the virus from abroad and did not properly quarantine after arriving.
The resurgence of coronavirus in Israel has been largely attributed to the spread of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India and is believed to be twice as contagious as the original COVID strain.