Israel to airlift citizens home before drastic quarantine rules go into effect

A mass airlift will enable Israeli citizens to beat the clock before they are forced into quarantine hotels. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israel is organizing a mass airlift to return its citizens home before new, draconian quarantine rules go into effect that would force all returning Israelis to enter special hotels for a period of 14 days. The new rules go into effect on Wednesday.

The airline, or “air railroad,” as newspaper Maariv has termed it, will be at the service of Israelis who wish to beat the deadline and pass the quarantine time in the more comfortable setting of their own homes.

It has been reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted the new rules to go into effect immediately but legal reasons required a 48-hour period to pass. The government did move quickly to ban foreign nationals from the UK, Denmark and South Africa from entering the country. That went into effect on Sunday.

Israir, Arkia, El Al and flydubai will arrange dozens of flights for returning Israelis.

Maariv reports that Oz Berlowitz, deputy CEO of Arkia, said: “Arkia is preparing for an air train from Dubai in light of the high demand from passengers to return before being instructed to isolate in hotels. The company is preparing for flights around the clock. The number of places is limited to demand so it is worth booking now. Arkia will continue to operate the line to Dubai also in the future with a daily flight on the Airbus plane.”

The paper reports that a group of tourists at Ben Gurion International Airport who were on their way to Dubai on Monday cancelled their flights, turned around and went home.

The new regulation is a response to a mutated coronavirus first reported in the UK. The novel strain has 17 mutations, most connected to the spike protein that allows the virus to infect humans. The virus is said to be much more contagious than the original.

It’s unknown if the new variant is more deadly or less susceptible to the new vaccines that have just been distributed. For that reason, countries have moved swiftly to contain the virus in the UK until more is known. Germany, France, Canada and Demark have all banned entry to travelers from Britain.