Israel will ban foreign airlines from flying in and out of the country until January 31 to curtail the spread of new COVID-19 strains.
The country’s cabinet on Sunday approved plans to freeze flights starting at midnight between Monday and Tuesday, Haaretz reported Sunday. Flights leaving the country will only be approved in rare instances. Firefighting planes, emergency medical flights, and cargo aircraft won’t be affected by the policy. Domestic airlines will also face some new restrictions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the new travel policy, saying in a government meeting “no nation has done what we are about to do,” according to Haaretz.
While several countries have reinstated travel restrictions to slow the virus’s spread, Israel’s latest motion is among the strictest actions yet. Many countries are now requiring passengers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before flying internationally.
Flights leaving Israel for legal or medical reasons will be permitted, as will those for family funerals or relocations. Travel for personal or humanitarian needs will require approval by the government’s directors-general of health and transportation, Haaretz reported.
The flight halt also marks the first time that Jewish people won’t be able to immigrate to Israel unless it’s “a matter of life or death,” transportation minister Miri Regev reportedly said in the meeting.