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Israel: New Guidelines Limit Public Gatherings to 100 People, Increase Isolation Requirements for Any Person with Fever and Respiratory Symptoms

(Mar. 13, 2020) On the evening of March 11, 2020, Israel time, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus (which had risen to 97 cases by that day), Israel’s Ministry of Health issued new guidelines.

The New Guidelines, March 11, 2020 state that their purpose is to reduce the potential for infection by the coronavirus and prevent its spread in Israel. Accordingly, in addition to strict adherence to personal hygiene, care must be taken to avoid large gatherings and crowds. All people with a temperature of 38 Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit) or more and respiratory symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath are required to stay home for two days after the fever has dropped, regardless of the need for a coronavirus test. The regulations further require the avoidance of gatherings of more than 100 people. The limit applies to all public and private events such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, and funerals.

The regulations allow health staff who are responsible for treating patients to congregate only for work purposes, and in groups of not over 15 people. Sports events that are held must exclude spectators, and to the extent that players or judges from abroad participate, they must follow the particular instructions issued by the Ministry of Health. Special responsibilities are imposed on stores, malls, and shopping centers to regulate occupancy and ensure that there is no crowding at any given moment. The Ministry of Health further called upon employers to prepare and increase as much as possible the capacity and arrangements for remote work by employees.

Israeli universities were reportedly preparing to implement the limitation on large gatherings by delivering online classes.

The Israeli press reported on March 12, 2020, that the teachers’ union, which represents teachers in elementary and middle schools and kindergartens, has called for the immediate closure of schools and kindergartens because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The union argued that running the schools under current conditions posed a serious and immediate danger to students and teaching staff. As of March 12, about 5,300 students and teachers are in isolation, a number constituting approximately 0.25% of the students in the education system.

On the evening of March 12, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the suspension of operation of all schools in Israel except for special education, nursery schools, and boarding schools.