Photo Credit: Flash 90
Ben Gurion International Airport

Are you planning to return to Israel this month? Do you have family or friends planning to arrive? Here’s what you — and they — need to know.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and officials from relevant government ministries met Thursday night to assess how the Omicron strain is being handled in Israel.

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Following are the decisions that were taken:

• Fines for persons arriving in Israel who do not undergo a second PCR test

– It was decided to impose fines on persons arriving from overseas who do not undergo a required second PCR test on the third or seventh day since their arrival.

– The Health Ministry and the Israel Police will synchronize their data systems so that tickets will be issued automatically.

– The fines will not exceed NIS 2,500.

– The decision will take effect in several weeks, upon completion of the technical preparations necessary for its implementation.

• “Vaccinated community” pilot program

The ministries of Education and Health, in cooperation with local authorities, will operate a special program to vaccinate children in various communities, in the framework of which the following principles will be implemented:

– Early coordination between the coronavirus control center, the local authority, schools, the local parents committee, HMOs and the district physician.

– Advance information activity in the education system among parents and family members before the start of vaccinations.

– Information activity ahead of the local vaccination day in the community, in the framework of which mobile vaccination units will go to schools and community centers.

Next week pilot programs will begin in the initial local authorities. At the same time, Prime Minister Bennett directed that preparations be made immediately to expand the campaign to all local authorities and schools in Israel.

• It was also decided to continue staff work, with the participation of all elements, in order to find ways to encourage vaccinations, which will be submitted at a future date.

• Several proposals for changing the directives at Ben-Gurion International Airport in the future were made as well. The Health Ministry, the Transportation and Road Safety Ministry, and IDF Home Front Command will complete the staff work on the issue and present recommendations and alternatives at a future date.

The Health Ministry Director General, the Education Ministry Director General, the Public Security Ministry Director General, the Director of the Public Health Service, the national coronavirus project manager, the Defense Ministry Director of Civil Defense, the Deputy Attorney General, the Finance Ministry Budget Director, the Deputy Director of the National Security Council, GOC Home Front Command and other professionals also participated in the discussion.

In the United States, the omicron variant has been discovered in at least five states. New York has confirmed five cases of the COVID-19 variant, with a possible 13 cases under investigation. There have also been cases identified in California, Colorado, Minnesota and Hawaii.

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced new testing requirements for international travelers, mandating a negative COVID-19 test to be carried out within 24 hours of departure. He also promised that in the coming weeks Americans will have access to free, rapid at-home COVID-19 testing.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.