Coronavirus: Israel lifts unpopular ban on outgoing flights for citizens

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The Israeli government on Thursday announced it was lifting an unpopular ban on citizens flying out of the country, in an easing of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

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“As of Friday, 16 October 2020, the emergency ordinance restricting entry to the airport for those who have not met the defined criteria will be cancelled,” a government statement said.

The flight ban was part of a slew of restrictions added on September 25 to reinforce a lockdown that came a week earlier.

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The government has since allowed access to flights only to those who had bought their tickets prior to September 25.

Israelis and foreigners with a residency visa are allowed to fly into the country, but those landing from so-called “red countries” -- those with high coronavirus rates -- must observe a 14-day quarantine.

Read more: Israel tightens coronavirus restrictions as cases continue to surge

The nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, the Jewish state’s second since March, limited public prayer and placed strict curbs on demonstrations.

A cabinet meeting was expected Thursday to discuss a possible further easing of coronavirus measures.

Israel has recorded close to 300,000 coronavirus infections and over 2,000 deaths, out of a population of nine million.

The rate of new infections, however, is easing, with 2,000 new cases reported on Wednesday, compared to more than 7,500 the day before the flight ban was introduced.