By Orly Gerbi, Firm: Herzog Fox & Neeman

On 4 February 2020, the Ministry of Health published a Public Health Order (the New Corona Virus 2019) (Instructions for Employers of Employees in Home Quarantine) (Temporary Order), 2020. This alert reflects the provisions in force at the time of writing.

The Order defines an ‘Employee in Home Quarantine’ to include any employed person (regardless of whether they are employed in a formal employment relationship and including volunteers and service providers at the employer's premises) who is required to be in Home Quarantine to rule out an infection by the coronavirus.

Under the new Order:

  1. Employers must prohibit employees subject to Home Quarantine from attending work during the period in which the employee is required to remain in Home Quarantine, even if the employee wishes to enter the workplace.
  2. Employees subject to Home Quarantine are required to provide their employer with notice, as soon as possible, of their requirement to be in isolation and the duration of such isolation.
  3. Employers are prohibited from dismissing employees subject to Home Quarantine due to their absence during the isolation period.

This Order joins the Public Health Order (the New Corona Virus 2019) (Home Quarantine) (Temporary Order), 2020, published by the Ministry of Health on 2 February 2020 (as later amended), which dictates who should be in Home Quarantine, the meaning of Home Quarantine, and its duration.

Who should be in Home Quarantine?

In general, under the updated instructions released by the Ministry of Health, the following people should be in Home Quarantine:

  • Individuals returning from any of the following (updated) list of countries must be quarantined in home isolation for 14 days from the date the individual left the listed country: China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, France, and Switzerland.
  • The Ministry added Italy to the list of countries as of 27 February 2020, but with retroactive effect as of 13 February 2020. Austria, Germany, Spain, France, and Switzerland were added on 4 March 2020, with retroactive effect.
  • Individuals who did not spend time in one of the listed countries other than for a connecting flight are not required to be in Home Quarantine, with the exception of China, South Korea, and Italy, for which even a connection in one of these countries will require quarantine.
  • Any person who has been (or has been determined by a doctor to have been) in close contact with a confirmed patient. The Health Ministry publishes, among other things, places visited and flights taken by any confirmed patient.
  • Any Israeli resident returning from attending an international conference outside of Israel.

Individuals subject to Home Quarantine must independently report themselves to the Ministry of Health, by way of an online form or the health call center at *5400.

There is currently no automatic Home Quarantine for travellers from Australia and Taiwan, except in the event such a traveler exhibits fever 38C (100.4F) or higher, cough, trouble breathing, or other respiratory symptoms.

Restrictions on entry into Israel

On the basis of recommendations from the Ministry of Health, the Interior Ministry has barred entry to Israel for those traveling from the following countries: China (including connections through that country), Hong Kong, Italy (including connections through that country), Japan, Macau, Singapore, South Korea (including connections through that country), or Thailand. Travelers from Austria, Germany, Spain, France, and Switzerland will not be permitted entry into Israel unless they establish the ability to enter into home isolation as of Friday 6 March 2020. This bar on entry does not apply to individuals who are citizens or residents of Israel.

Tourists who have stayed in Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Israel.

Flights out of Israel

Currently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recommended completely avoiding any travel to China and South Korea. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also advised travelers to further consider any travel to Thailand or Japan or any non-essential travel to Italy. We note that the Ministry of Health has advised avoiding all travel to Italy.

We recommend keeping updated with all the latest information, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs web site page titled ‘Recommendations for Overseas Travelers’.

The Ministry of Health recommended (in guidance published on 26 February 2020) that the public consider further the necessity of trips abroad generally, in addition to the requirement that individuals returning from specific countries enter Home Quarantine.

The Ministry of Health also instructed individuals in Israel to avoid participating in international conferences or other gatherings, including religious events that are likely to be attended by participants from around the world.

Per the instruction of the Ministry of Health, as of 4 March 2020, healthcare workers are prohibited from travelling internationally. The Ministry of Health also issued a recommendation to Israel's Civil Service Commissioner to prohibit port workers from going overseas.

The Ministry of Health is constantly updating its recommendations for overseas travelers. Click here for the full list of the Ministry’s recommendations regarding the coronavirus. We recommend specifically referring to the Q&A’s section at the bottom of the page.

Mass gatherings and conferences

Per the instruction of the Health Ministry on 4 March 2020, large community events and mass gatherings that exceed 5,000 people are prohibited. Further, it is currently not permitted to hold an international conference in Israel.

Individuals who traveled internationally within the last 14 days may not attend any gathering that exceeds 100 people.

The Health Ministry also recommends that adults over the age of 60 and individuals with chronic medical conditions (such as heart conditions, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory diseases or immunosuppression) avoid gatherings, contact with international travelers, contact with sick people, or contact with people suspected of a coronavirus infection.

The duration of Home Quarantine

In general, the quarantine period will last for 14 days, from the last date on which the individual was in any of the listed countries or was in close contact with a confirmed patient. Of course, the required quarantine period may extend if the individual starts to exhibit actual signs of illness.

Only a Ministry of Health comprehensive medical certificate is required

The Ministry of Health has published a public notice with guidelines stating, among other things, that any absence from work resulting from mandated quarantine will be considered as absence due to illness.

On 4 February 2020, the Ministry of Health published a comprehensive medical certificate for employees who are in mandated Home Quarantine, replacing the lawfully required medical certificate. The guidelines explicitly prohibit employers from requiring employees who are subject to Home Quarantine to provide an additional medical certificate. Employees must, however, submit with the general medical certificate a declaration establishing the date of departure from a listed country (in the form provided by the Ministry as an attachment to the comprehensive medical certificate).

Employers have raised concerns about the obligation to pay sick leave to employees in Home Quarantine, despite employees not actually being sick, and have requested government financial intervention in this regard (which may generate developments in the future). There is also pending litigation on the subject.

Final note

The guidelines on handling the coronavirus are constantly being updated, and therefore we strongly recommend that employers examine the updated guidelines on an ongoing basis, especially in relation to Home Quarantine, entry into Israel and travel warnings and recommendations.

In addition to the above, the Ministry of Health has emphasized the simple but valuable advice to engage in careful hygiene practices (such as proper handwashing) and to avoid handshakes.

For your convenience, below, please find a few links to important publications, for your attention and use (in Hebrew and, where available, in English):

  • Public Health Order (the New Corona Virus 2019) (Temporary Order), 2020, as updated on March 1, 2020. The Order is valid for 90 days, from 2 February 2020 (Hebrew).
  • Notifications of the Spokesperson for the Population and Immigration Authority regarding the entry into Israel.