Israel restricts outgoing flights to bolster virus lockdown

Tel Aviv (AFP) –


The Israeli government slapped restrictions on outgoing flights on Friday as part of a slew of measures to bolster a second virus lockdown imposed last week.

"The arrangement agreed upon enables leaving the country for whoever bought an airplane ticket prior to the beginning of the lockdown, i.e. today, the 25th, at 1400," Transport Minister Miri Regev said in a statement.

"People who buy a ticket beyond then won't be able to use it," she said, noting Israelis would be able to return to the country "without limitations".

From 1100 GMT, Israel was set to tighten its second virus lockdown, after the first week failed to bring down the world's highest coronavirus infection rate.

The new rules, which will close workplaces, shutter markets and further limit prayers and demonstrations, had yet to be finalised in parliament just hours before they were due to come into force.

The lockdown already closed schools and imposed restrictions on work and leisure.

Israel has recorded more than 215,000 coronavirus infections and 1,378 deaths, out of a population of nine million, with more than 7,500 new cases on Thursday.