Israel is banning all passenger flights in and out of the country for two weeks to curb the coronavirus spread and prevent variants from getting among its population.
The announcement came after Israeli police clashed in a number of cities with ultra-Orthodox protesters resisting the coronavirus safety rules.
Authorities are struggling to enforce COVID-19 requirements, including social distancing, in ultra-Orthodox communities throughout the country, contributing to one of the world’s highest rates of infection, Associated Press reported.
In Isreal, infection rates remain high, with an average of over 8,000 new cases reported every day.
Late on Sunday evening, the Israeli Cabinet approved measures to all passenger flights in and out of the country with exceptions for humanitarian travel such as for a funeral or for medical patients.
The order still requires parliamentary legislation to be made lawful and will last until the end of January, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He said: “Today we are closing Ben-Gurion International Airport. Contrary to what is being said, we are ahead of the whole world. No country has done what we are about to do.
“We are hermetically closing the skies apart from very rare exceptions in order to prevent the entry of mutated viruses and in order to ensure that we will advance quickly with our vaccines operation.
“I would like to emphasise that just this week, in which we are approving closing the skies, we will vaccinate another approximately one million Israelis.”
“We are thereby ensuring that the damage from the mutation, if it enters, and from additional variants, if they enter, will be much smaller, and of course, we will be able to open our economy,” Mr. Netanyahu said.
“Until now we have vaccinated approximately 2.5 million Israeli citizens with the first dose of the vaccine. Of these, around one million citizens have received the second dose,” the prime minister concluded.
Israel has recorded over 595,000 positive cases since the start of the pandemic and over 4,361 deaths.
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