By: Amit Acco, Partner

While all international passenger flights from and to Ben Gurion Airport are banned until February 20, 2021 the Israeli government has identified a limited number of exemptions based on humanitarian grounds where flights are permitted.

These decisions have been made by a committee formed for this purpose known as the “Exemption Committee”. Foreign experts have been excluded from eligibility to apply for an exemption.

It was announced today by senior officials at the Ministry of Economics, that as of next week, the Exemption Committee will start considering applications for the entry of foreign experts, who are deemed by the Ministry to be essential to the Israeli market. Priority will be given to those foreign experts with a valid work visa, that returns to Israel.  In light of the anticipated volume of requests as well as limited flight availability, officials recommend applications for entry to be submitted ASAP for use by February 28, 2021(expected entry date).

It was announced today (February 18) that flights will currently operate from only two destinations: New York and Frankfurt. This means that Delta, United, El Al, Israir and Lufthansa will be the only airlines to operate at Ben Gurion Airport at this stage.

KTA expects that in parallel, the Work Permit Unit (WPU) of the Ministry will resume its operations for issuing new work permits early next week, based upon the relevant government office (per industry) recommendations and in light of the policy taken since the start of the pandemic. Our recommendation is to submit new work permit applications ASAP to the WPU, to allow for timely processing.

Currently, all inbound passengers are required to enter mandatory isolation in state-run facilities for at least 10 days, subject to 2 negative COVID-19 tests. This will continue at least until March 1st, 2021.

It is currently unclear when Ben Gurion Airport will return to wider activity. Estimates speak of the second week of March, by which time an outline will be formulated that can enforce the issue of isolation back from abroad and will likely provide significant benefits to those already vaccinated.