Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday Israel might broaden its entry restrictions to include visitors from all countries due to the spread of coronavirus.
Israel already requires travelers arriving from 15 countries, in Europe and Asia, to go into home quarantine for 14 days. The measure effectively cut off tourism from those countries and led some foreign airlines to suspend flights to Israel.
Israel has reported 26 coronavirus cases and some 80,000 Israelis are in self-quarantine after returning from foreign visits.
Netanyahu spoke by telephone on Sunday with US Vice-President Mike Pence to discuss coronavirus concerns amid Israeli media reports that Israel was considering barring visitors from parts of the United States where the illness has spread.
Israeli political commentators have said Netanyahu, fearful of drawing criticism from a main ally, US President Donald Trump, has resisted pressure by Israeli public health officials to add New York, the state of Washington and California to the restricted list.
At a news conference, Netanyahu said Israel was “weighing quarantine for everyone” flying into the country.
“We have reached the decision that if we take additional steps, it will apply to all countries,” he said. “But on the other hand, it is very difficult decision.”
He said a decision would be made on Monday in consultation with Israeli health authorities and emergency authorities.
Netanyahu and Pence agreed to follow up their telephone call with discussions between US and Israeli health officials on technological and scientific cooperation and ways to “confront the challenges” posed by the virus, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
Israel has already ordered travelers from Germany, France, Spain, Andorra, San Marino, Austria, Switzerland, Macau, Hong Kong, China, France, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand to go into home quarantine.
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