Since March 1 hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists have entered Israel but about 4,000 of them have been unable to board their flights and fly home because they have tested positive for Covid. Most of these foreign tourists have been put up in state-run Covid hotels with Israel footing the bill.
Foreign tourists can find themselves trapped in Israel by testing positive in three ways. Firstly, tourists who test positive on entering Israel at Ben Gurion airport. Secondly tourists flying to a destination like the US that requires a negative PCR test in order to board the flight. Thirdly because they took a test while in Israel, possibly because they felt ill, which was positive.
Israeli government policy is that these tourists must be accommodated in a government-run Covid hotel. The tourists are supposed to foot the bill but for technical reasons cannot be debited so that the state pays the thousands of shekels entailed, through the IDF Home Command.
According to Amiel Tours director of services Ilana Slom, the details of a tourist with Covid are passed on by the Ministry of Tourism to the Ministry of Health so that they can be allocated a Covid hotel in either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. “At the same time we instruct the tourist to activate their insurance policy, which covers the costs. We have set up a special team to help those who test positive.”
The tourist is taken to the Covid hotel in a special ambulance. “We work with private companies that charge them a reasonable price for the journey,” explains Slom. The price can range from hundreds of shekels to more than NIS 1,000, according to the distance. The tourist must spend seven days in isolation in the hotel, which can be shortened to five days subject to a negative antigen test result carried out on the fourth or fifth day. The tourist must also obtain an official release letter from a doctor for which a fee must also be paid.
The Ministry of Defense, which operates the Covid hotels, said that the Ministry of Health was responsible for the matter. The Ministry of Health declined to comment.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on April 19, 2022.
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