image Photo: Flash90

COVID-19: foreign nationals officially barred from entering Israel

In spite of relentless efforts to thwart the highly-contagious coronavirus from spreading throughout the State of Israel, the number of confirmed cases rose to 529 today, reflecting as increase of 96 patients.

The interim government in Jerusalem, led by incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been using all possible methods to guide the Israeli public; to which some societal sectors have been less compliant than others.

A special meeting was convened at the Prime Minister’s office with senior Arab-Israeli doctors, in a collaborated effort to more effectively communicate the vital importance of the containment measures to their community.

“Unfortunately, as I see it, there is not enough observance in the Arab sector of the directives,” said Netanyahu. “There is a problem with the general public, but especially a problem in the smaller villages, as I understand it, and we are going to fix this immediately.”

“The coronavirus not [just] another disease. It is an epidemic that hits everybody. It does not discriminate between Arabs, Circassians, Bedouin and Christians,” the Israeli leader stressed, reiterating that “It simply does not discriminate between religions and sectors; therefore, responsibility and strict discipline are demanded from all of the country’s citizens.”

Meanwhile, the decision to utilize counter-terrorism tactics to identify and locate potential carriers of the contagion has reportedly proven to be effective. The Shin Bet security agency has been analyzing geolocation-data gathered from the country’s telecommunications providers, in close coordination with the Ministry of Health. The information is then used to track the movements of infected people so those with whom they came into contact can be notified and instructed to isolate themselves. Both ill patients and those exposed to the virus will be monitored to ensure compliance with quarantine restrictions, to better combat the virus.

Amid the ongoing efforts by authorities to convince the Israeli public to remain indoors; some audacious Israeli parents – weary of their children’s forced confinement – occasionally make a brief stroll outdoors, to alleviate their children’s evident frustration. Tel Aviv Resident Samuel Bocobza explained leaving “because kids get crazy when they stay at home, as you can see he is really disappointed that he cannot go on the swing, so we try not to go out too much, just the minimum so that he breathes a little bit and doesn’t get crazy at home.”

While the general Israeli public is seemingly coming to terms with the growing number of restrictions, with additional near-daily measures enacted by the interim government in Jerusalem; the Israeli Population and Migration Authority announced the official closure of the state of Israel, to all foreign nationals – with no exceptions.

The statement read: “Pursuant to recommendations from the Ministry of Health, as of today entry into Israel by foreign nationals will not be permitted, even if they have proven the ability to stay in quarantine.” “Exceptions will be made for those whose lives are based in Israel.”

The newly implemented measure, which already barred several foreign nationals from entering the Jewish State in the past 24 hours, has further dimmed prospects of recovery for many of the country’s ‘already devastated’ tourist-fueled businesses. According to Jerusalem Shop Owner Basel Hijazi “The virus is spreading, the markets are closed, I am just passing time, I wanted to leave the house, buy groceries, let some fresh air into the shop and now I will close and go home.”

Since the beginning of the month of March, when the effects of the coronavirus emerged throughout the Jewish State, more than 180 thousand Israelis have filed for unemployment – which is a staggering 7.5 times the number of those who registered during the month of February. The Employment Service’s website crashed several times throughout the day, as an average of some 5,000 Israelis are reportedly filing for unemployment every hour. According to the Employment Service Authorities, some 400,000 newly unemployed Israelis are expected by the end of this month, with the cost of unemployment benefits for the month of April alone, expecting to exceed 2 billion shekels, which is equal to a little under 507 million euros, or a little over 545 million U.S. dollars.

And while the consequences of the coronavirus are negatively impacting millions; Some Israelis are making every possible effort – within the boundaries of constrains imposed by health authorities – to follow through with their joyous pre-scheduled plans. Instead of cancelling their wedding, Roni Ben-Ari and Yonatan Meushar decided to marry with most of their 260 guests watching the ceremony by means of telecommunications. According to the bride this was “different than what we had imagined,” yet “perfect.”