Israel government orders 14-day home quarantine for overseas arrivals

The battle to halt the coronavirus brought new restrictions Monday, with Israel ordering all visitors quarantined just weeks before Passover and Easter.

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Israel ordered two weeks of home quarantine for anyone arriving from overseas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, third left, speak during during their visit to the coronavirus outbreak central response unit at the Israeli Ministry of Health, in Kiryat Malachi, Israel, Sunday. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, third left, speak during during their visit to the coronavirus outbreak central response unit at the Israeli Ministry of Health, in Kiryat Malachi, Israel, Sunday. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Israel had earlier ordered residents returning from several European and Asian countries into 14 days of home quarantine. On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the measure would now apply to anyone entering the country from overseas.

Electoral officials count ballots cast by Israelis under home quarantine after returning from Coronavirus infected zones in the city of Shoham, Israel, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Electoral officials count ballots cast by Israelis under home quarantine after returning from Coronavirus infected zones in the city of Shoham, Israel, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

“This is a difficult decision, but it’s necessary to protect public health. Public health comes before everything else,” Netanyahu said, announcing the decision after hours of consultations with senior cabinet ministers, security officials and public health officials. He said the order would remain in effect for two weeks.

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Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, director general of the Israeli Health Ministry, told Channel 13 TV that foreign tourists arriving on flights would have to show proof they have a place to stay for two weeks of home quarantine, or they would be barred entry. He said tourists already in the country should exercise caution and immediately contact authorities if they feel ill.

Passengers wearing protective masks arrive in Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020.  (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Passengers wearing protective masks arrive in Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020.  (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The move comes just ahead of the Passover and Easter holiday seasons, when Israel is flooded with overseas visitors. It was sure to deal another blow to the already struggling tourism industry. Netanyahu said the government, which has already approved a relief fund for hard-hit businesses, was working on other measures to protect the economy.

Palestinian policeman delivers supplies to the hotel staff which tested positive to coronavirus to a hotel in Bethlehem, West Bank, Friday. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinian policeman delivers supplies to the hotel staff which tested positive to coronavirus to a hotel in Bethlehem, West Bank, Friday. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

More than 113,000 people worldwide have tested positive for the disease and more than 3,900 people with the virus have died, most of them in China. More than 62,000 people have already recovered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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