Netanyahu reverses decision on inbound flights, allows them to continue

“The State of Israel will not close its doors to Israelis returning home,” said Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

In consultation with his cabinet on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed his stance about stopping flights from abroad and agreed to continue allowing them, even from places deemed to be at high risk for coronavirus, as long as passengers are immediately transferred to specially set up quarantine hotels.

Netanyahu also decided to give the Defense Ministry the power to enforce the new policy.

“The State of Israel will not close its doors to Israelis returning home,” said Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

“I thank the prime minister for making the right, moral decision, All Jews are responsible for one another is a fundamental element of the State of Israel,” he said.

On Saturday night, Netanyahu called for a complete cessation of air travel to Israel after 70 passengers on a United Airlines flight from New York left the airport on Saturday without having their temperatures taken nor were asked to fill out forms detailing where they would be spending the next 14 days in quarantine.

Prior to Sunday’s decision, airport coronavirus procedures required all arrivals to have their temperatures taken by Magen David Adom personnel, fill out a questionnaire about their health, list whom they have been in contact with, and inform officials where they will be self-quarantining for two weeks.

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If any of the procedures were not taken, then passengers were supposed to be sent to coronavirus hotels. However, these regulations were often ignored without consequence.

Late last month Defense Minister Naftali Bennett admitted that airport coronavirus procedures were flawed.

“Originally, it was the decision of the National Security Council and the prime minister to test travelers upon landing,” Bennett said at the time.

“But for a plethora of reasons, the decision changed to house quarantine. This is not a delusional decision, we’re examining what are our abilities with regard to testing.”