On Tuesday, May 19, Israeli authorities announced plans to further ease restrictions in place amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Per the directive, restaurants, bars, clubs, and beaches will be allowed to reopen nationwide from Wednesday, May 27, and public buses will be permitted to operate at full capacity during peak hours.
On Tuesday, May 12, the Israel Airports Authority and Ministry of Health announced plans to gradually resume international flights from June. Additionally, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday, May 4, that residents would be allowed to visit relatives and travel anywhere within the country, markets and shopping centers would be opened, and that schools would gradually reopen to resume their regular schedules. Netanyahu has warned that previous restrictive measures may be reimplemented if infection rates increase.
Other restrictions remain in place, including the mandatory use of face masks in public. The Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem will remain closed during Ramadan and Muslim citizens are being asked to avoid family feasts and other associated gatherings. Ramadan began on Thursday, April 23, and is expected to end on Friday, May 22.
As of Thursday, May 21, authorities have confirmed 16,667 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 279 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.