Policy responses for Israel - HSRM

Israel


Policy responses for Israel

6. Measures in other sectors

6.1 Measures in other sectors

Many MEASURES IN OTHER SECTORS beyond the immediate scope of the health system are being taken to prevent further spread of the virus. This section contains information on many of these areas, including border and travel restrictions and economic and fiscal measures, among others.

Borders
Borders were controlled and partially closed at a relatively early stage of the pandemic:
- On February 2, the government prohibited entrance for non-residents who were in China during the 14 days prior to arrival at the border crossing.
- On February 27, the government prohibited entrance for non-residents who were in Italy during the 14 days prior to arrival at the border crossing.
- On March 3, the government further expanded the prohibition of entrance for non-residents who were in any European country during the 14 days prior to arrival at the border crossing.
- On March 9, the country partially closed its borders:
- Residents returning to Israel from any country were required to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of return;
- The entry of non-Israeli residents was allowed only if they could demonstrate an ability to self-isolate;
- Tourists already in Israel were given time to leave the country over the following days.
- As of March 28, land border crossings were still operating for residents returning home, though they had reduced opening hours.

Reduction of flights restrictions until 07.03.2021

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, only Israeli citizens or permanent residents have been allowed to enter the country and the airports have closed all since February 2021. Israelis could only enter the country (via airports) in exceptional cases which required the approval of an ‘Exceptions Committee’, and no more than 2,000 individuals per day were allowed in the country this way. A relaxation of this comes into effect on March 7, 2021, and up to 3,000 Israelis will be allowed to enter the country per day, with an option to increase that number. Citizens and residents entering the country are still mandated to spend the quarantine period in designated COVID-19 hotels. All entrants will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test valid for 72 hours prior to the flight. Vaccinated Israelis will be exempt from isolation. Unvaccinated Israelis who wish to enter the country will be required to be isolated in a motel or as an alternative to isolation using an electronic bracelet. Israelis are also able to leave the country starting on March 7, with exceptions to prevent travel to high-morbidity destinations defined by the MoH.

An outline for relaxing travel restrictions for vaccinated tourists starting May 23, 2021

The government has decided on an outline that will allow entry for vaccinated tourists from foreign countries in groups, as of May 23, 2021. Entry will be allowed based on a quota to be determined at a later time. Depending on the initial results of this plan, the extension of the outline to tourists not coming in groups will be considered, as long as the morbidity continues to decline along the current trend. Tourists will be required to undergo a PCR test before boarding the plane to Israel, and PCR and serological tests are required upon arrival at the airport in Israel.

In order to increase the capacity of passenger traffic at the airport, the government has decided to set up a testing complex outside the terminal. For this purpose, a team will be set up and headed by the Director General of the Prime Minister's Office with the participation of directors of other relevant ministries to discuss the details of the tender for setting up this complex.

Mobility

First wave measures (spring 2020)
- Public transportation has been reduced – some lines got cancelled while others have a lower service frequency.
- Inner-city bus line frequency has been reduced in general to up to 2 trips per hour (with exceptions of up to 3 trips per hour). Inter-city bus lines have a frequency of 2-3 times per hour.
- Trains lines have also been reduced.
- Public transportation ceased to operate at night and weekends.
- Finally, since March 25, when a total lockdown was declared, public transportation has stopped operating.

April 27, 2021 Further relaxation of public health restrictions
Occupancy restrictions for places that are part of the green pass initiative will be abolished beginning May 6, 2021. Children and people who cannot be vaccinated are able to access amenities currently restricted to green pass holders via speedy PCR tests (relaxations subject to government approval and morbidity and mortality rates; see “Israel’s third lockdown” in Section 1.2 for further details).

Economy

Between March 1 and March 29, 764,165 citizens became unemployed. About 90% of them are on ‘unpaid leave’ (with their terms of eligibility for unemployment insurance being the same as for people who got fired). As a result, the unemployment rate has risen from 3.4% in February to 22%.

The Bank of Israel has announced plans to purchase Israeli government bonds in the sum of 50 trillion shekels (approximately 3.5% of GDP) to help Israelis cope with the repercussions of the pandemic. Big infrastructure projects (particularly transportation projects) are being accelerated at this time, due to the low level of public and economic activity during the crisis.

31.3.20

A new incentives package of 80 billion NIS was announced on March 31, which includes:
• 41 billion NIS for the business sector
• 11 billion for investments in the health system such as hospital beds, health workers, pharmaceuticals;
• 20 billion for enhancing economic ‘safety nets’: one-time grant of 4,000 NIS for people over the retirement age who stopped working due the crisis; grants for self-employed up to 6,000 NIS in March, up to 8,000 NIS in April; extension of vocational trainings; funds for supporting NGOs.
• An extra 8 billion for assisting the economic market. 


3.4.20: Special allowances for eastern holidays of 500 NIS (~125 USD) allowance per each child, up to 2000 NIS per family, no eligibility tests; 500NIS grant for elderly (detailed criteria yet to be published)

State aid

- Sick leave payments are being provided to diagnosed individuals and those on quarantine.
- Online home education is provided by the Ministry of Education, but each teacher sets the frequencey of classes.
- The State is backing loans with improved terms for small and medium sized businesses in amounts up to 500,000 NIS or 8% of annual turnover.
- The government has approved a delay of taxes and other payments for independent workers and businesses and early payment for businesses which are doing work for the government.
- Measures have also been implemented to improve terms for unemployment benefits and unpaid leave for employees. Thus, it is now easier to receive unpaid leave from the government in order to enable businesses to reduce work force without firing employees.
- Special grants will be provided for the unemployed and for independent workers.

09.07.2020 – special financial aid package for families

Following the rise in COVID-19 daily new patients and the persistence of high unemployment and socio-economic uncertainty, a new social "safety net" was announced on July 9th 2020. The main goal of the program is to provide immediate income to unemployed and financially hit freelance and business owners, and reduce the economic uncertainty. The innovation of this measure is skipping bureaucracy in order to provide immediate relief. Thus, the program provides monthly monetary grants for unemployed, and hit freelancers, self-employed, and businesses until June 2021. The main monetary grants in the program include:

• Unemployed
   • Full unemployment benefits for the eligible - until the end of June
   2021 or until unemployment rate drops below 10% (in contrast to
   'normal' times in which unemployment benefits are payed for a
   limited amount of months, depending on age of the unemployed)
   • Loosening of eligibility criteria for unemployment benefits
   • Special grant, up to 4,000 NIS for unemployed people older than
   67 (retirement age)
• Self-employed and business owners
   • Special grant for May-June 2020 of up to 7,500NIS – granted to
   those eligible for the previous round of grants.
   • Grant for self-employed and business owners whose turnover was
   up to 640,000 NIS per year and is down by at least 40%. The grant
   amounts up to 70% of their income, Maximum of 15,000 NIS (every
   two months)
• Businesses
   • Grant for self-employed and business whose turnover was up to
   100,000,000 NIS per year and is down by at least 40%
   • bi-monthly grants of up to 6,000 depending on yearly turnover
   • municipal tax imbursement – if turnover was down by more than
   60%

https://www.gov.il/BlobFolder/news/press_09072020/he/PressReleases_files_%D7%A8%D7%A9%D7%AA%20%D7%91%D7%99%D7%98%D7%97%D7%95%D7%9F%20%D7%9B%D7%9C%D7%9B%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%AA%202020-2021.pdf

Sources: https://www.iaa.gov.il
https://www.gov.il/he/departments/news/public_transit_lines_signal_canceled
https://www.gov.il/he/departments/news/two_trips_an_hour_at_most
https://www.health.gov.il/NewsAndEvents/SpokemanMesseges/Documents/04022020.pdf
https://www.gov.il/he/departments/news/press_16032020_b 
https://govextra.gov.il/mof-gloans/
https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001323272
https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001323272
https://www.ynet.co.il/news/article/Sybugjcfd#autoplay
https://www.gov.il/he/departments/news/13042021-02
https://www.ynet.co.il/news/article/HkV2dZmDu#autoplay