Starting Friday, all travelers, including those who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19, are required to self-isolate for 24 hours upon arrival to Israel, or for a shorter period if they receive a negative test result.
Meanwhile, those returning from 15 countries deemed to have high infection rates will be required to quarantine for the full seven days with a negative test result, according to the ministry’s updated guidelines. The full quarantine period was recently shortened from the previous 10-14 days.
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 and Tunisia.
Starting next Friday, July 23, the following countries will be added to the list: the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Turkey, Georgia, Uganda, Myanmar, Fiji, Panama, Cambodia, Kenya and Liberia.
The Health Ministry also said that next Friday, Spain and Kyrgyzstan will be added to the list of countries with extreme rates of infection, to which Israelis are barred from flying, provided that a government committee approves the ministry’s request.
The countries that are currently off-limits for Israelis are Uzbekistan, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia.
Those returning from any other country now need to enter isolation, but for just 24 hours or until they receive a negative result to a test taken upon landing — the sooner of the two.
It is expected that test results will be delivered within 24 hours to ensure that returnees from non-high-risk countries that are nevertheless 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.
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.
Health Ministry figures showed 855 new cases were confirmed on Thursday, the highest figure since March 22. That came after daily infections topped 750 on each of the previous three days. Of the 65,125 tests performed Thursday, 1.52 percent came back positive — a rate slightly higher than in recent days.
There are 5,817 active virus cases in the country, Health Ministry data showed, while the death toll stood at 6,443.
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.