Coronavirus strikes Israeli economy

US, WASHINGTON (NEWS OBSERVATORY) — The Russian Embassy in Israel recommends that Russian citizens keep track of reports on measures taken against the spread of coronavirus.

The authorities of the Jewish state obliged all foreigners to report their arrival in five days, and after that observe two-week quarantine. The number of cases – more than 60 people.

The centuries-old ceremony of the Sanctification of the Holy Fire was under threat of disruption.

Almost no people meet, the electronic scoreboard dispassionately captures canceled flights. From the powerful, multilingual river of tourists splashing yesterday in the arrivals area, only streams remained.

Ben Gurion Airport. This is how the usually noisy and crowded main air gates of the country look today, closed since yesterday evening at the castle from the whole outside world. A few tourists can still get here, they are allotted time until Thursday, but for every Israeli who arrives in the country, return means a fourteen-day quarantine.

In Israel, planes from Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria no longer land. Aeroflot continues to fly to Tel Aviv, and the bewildered Muscovites are surprised to learn that they were the last who still managed to get to the Promised Land. However, they will have to adjust their plans, as the authorities strongly advise foreigners not to stay longer than three to five days.

Large tour operators already suffer serious losses in the millions of dollars. People refuse to travel, give out tickets when they learn about the new rules that will only allow tourists who have relatives or an apartment in Israel to enter the country today.

In Israel, there are already more than twenty thousand people: schoolchildren, teachers, military personnel, officials, everyone who was in troubled countries or came into contact with carriers of the virus, are serving their two-week home quarantine period. After the actual closure of the border, there will be more than three hundred thousand of them – everyone returning from abroad causes suspicion among the sanitary services.

Empty hotels in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea. Restaurants, shopping centers lose the lion’s share of revenue. For several days in a row, the indices of the Tel Aviv Exchange have fallen. It is difficult to say whether draconian methods will help curb the outbreak of coronavirus, which at this time is diagnosed by only six dozen Israelis, but for the economy it will be a blow, the consequences of which the government intends to compensate from the reserve fund. So far we are talking about five billion dollars. But few here believe that a nationwide quarantine will last only two weeks. Medical tourism managers offer clients from Russia to consult with local luminaries via video link.

“At the moment, the government has released a message that this is the closure of borders, or rather self-isolation will continue for about two weeks. I don’t think that this will end in two weeks, I think it will last a month, or maybe maybe two or three. I’m very pessimistic about what’s going on. I would really like to believe that we will find the opportunity for patients who need emergency medical care to come to Israel, “said Mark Katsenelson, head of the Israel Medical Tourism Association.

While in Israel they perceive tough quarantine actions of the authorities as a game. Young people dance in clubs, fans fill stadiums, universities are open, children go to schools, but the Ministry of Health makes it clear that all this can stop overnight. Events with five or more thousand participants have already been banned. This means that the traditional centuries-old ceremony of the Sanctification of the Holy Fire on Holy Saturday can take place in the empty Church of the Holy Sepulcher, without pilgrims who came here on Easter from all over the Orthodox world.


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Article is written and prepared by our foreign editors from different countries around the world – material edited and published by News Observatory staff in our US newsroom.