COVID-19: Israel bans entry for foreign travellers from Singapore

A man wearing a face mask prays during a mass prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City on 16 February. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Israel has imposed an entry ban on foreign travellers from Singapore as well as three other East Asian countries and territories.

According to Israeli media reports, the ban also covers non-Israeli travellers to Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau, and was announced by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Monday (17 February). This comes on top of an existing ban on foreign travellers who have been to mainland China.

The latest restrictions, which are expected to come into effect in the following week, apply to all non-Israelis who have been to the aforementioned areas in the past 14 days. The move is also a step up from the 14-day home quarantine requirements for such travellers that were unveiled on Sunday.

Israeli travellers who have been to the four areas have to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon their return.

Concerns over political fallout

A Times Of Israel report noted that officials at Israel’s Foreign Ministry had expressed concerns over the potential diplomatic fallout from the ban.

The online daily cited fears of “revenge” steps being taken by the countries and territories affected by the ban, such as lower degrees of economic cooperation or the issuing of more frequent travel warnings about Israel in the wake of terror attacks.

Meanwhile, Israel’s national El Al airline is mulling whether to temporarily suspend all its flights to Thailand, having already suspended flights to and from Hong Kong until Thursday.

Hong Kong’s national carrier, Cathay Pacific, is also expected to announce a suspension of flights to Israel, stating that its employees would not be able to enter the country given the new entry restrictions.

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Embassy in Singapore for comment.

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