After protests and near riots, Israel drops its short-lived mandatory hotel quarantine for returning travelers

Ron Cantor —  January 2, 2021 — Leave a comment

After a week of protesting and rioting by Israelis who were forcibly taken from the airport to state-run quarantine facilities after returning from abroad, a Knesset committee decided to scrap the rule and allow Israelis to quarantine at home. 

Instead, travelers will be required to undergo two COVID-19 tests — one upon landing Israel and another nine days after their arrival — and they will still be required to quarantine for two weeks, but at home. Those who refuse a test will be taken to a state-run facility.

These facilities are hotels that are not in use since tourists are still banned from the country. But the conditions have been anything but five-star according to several people who had been forced to stay there. Many reported that the rooms are not clean and that food — which is prepackaged and is reminiscent of Israeli hospital food — is not delivered to their door on time. The hotels were also unequipped to care for babies and people with allergies who needed formula, milk or special foods.

The decision was made originally in response to different strains and mutations of the coronavirus that have been located in Britain, South Africa and Denmark. News of the mutation sparked fears in Israel which prompted the government to swiftly close its borders even more stringently to all non-citizens including officials who had been allowed in on diplomatic missions.

Dozens of people forced to stay in hotels were seen trying to break through police barricades outside the buildings. After this decision came down on Tuesday, those forced to quarantine at the state-run facilities were allowed to return to their homes. 

Israel last week declared all countries “red” meaning that every nation in the world is considered to have high rates of COVID and that travelers returning to Israel are required to quarantine. Throughout the pandemic, Israel has deemed specific countries green at various times and most recently Seychelles, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were on the list of countries not requiring Israelis to quarantine upon return. Now isolation rules apply to every person no matter from where they traveled and what the COVID situation is in that country.