Israel imposes new entry restrictions from Europe due to coronavirus

Israel on Wednesday imposed new entry restrictions on five European countries due to coronavirus threats, banning non-Israeli citizens from entering those countries unless they can prove they have a quarantine facility in Israel.

Israel also decided that all its citizens and residents should spend 14 days in quarantine on their return from these five countries - France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland.

These measures, which, according to a Ministry of Health announcement, will come into effect in the "coming days", complement similar restrictions previously imposed on those arriving in Israel from mainland China, Hong Kong , Macao, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea , Japan and the most affected European country Italian.

The Interior Ministry announced that tourists from France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland would not be able to arrive in Israel from 8am on Friday. "Those arriving before this date will not be sent back," the Interior Ministry added.

The restrictions will not apply to people who have only transited through airports in these countries.

"We are at the height of a global epidemic," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement on new travel restrictions.

"We are in a better position than other countries because I have been instructing from the outset on maximum, not minimum" caution, Netanyahu said.

"And we have taken very, very strict measures to slow down the spread of the virus," he added.

There are currently 15 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Israel, but no deaths due to Covid-19 are caused by this virus. About 7,000 people in Israel are in home quarantine.

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday banned public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.