IDF Updates COVID-19 Restrictions and Guidelines amidst Omicron Surge

On Thursday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had updated its COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions for officers and soldiers, as coronavirus infections continue to surge throughout the country. The capsule system will once more be put into effect in training units, which had been extensively used by the Israeli military throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The commanders of each unit will take its makeup into account for determining the appropriate method to ensure social distancing for minimizing contact between all capsules. All troops would have to wear masks in closed spaces, including offices, classrooms and dining rooms, with living quarters and operational activities being the only exception.

Families of soldiers who have been newly-drafted will not be permitted to join the soldier at recruitment offices. Likewise, IDF officers will not be allowed to bring their kids to IDF bases, if they do not have a Green Pass. Synagogues and gyms at IDF bases will only operate at 50% capacity and only individuals with a Green Pass would be given access. Furthermore, the quarantine guidelines were also updated by the IDF for unvaccinated as well as vaccinated personnel. Those who have been inoculated and come into contact with a potential case of the coronavirus would have to self-isolate until they get three negative test results.

As for the unvaccinated, they would be required to self-isolate for an additional seven or 14 days, depending on two negative PCR tests. A vaccinated IDF officer or solider living with someone who tests positive for the coronavirus and cannot separate would be required to stay in isolation until getting a negative PCR test result. As for unvaccinated individuals, they would have to isolate until the recovery of the positive household member and then isolate for an additional seven, or 14 days, depending on two negative results. The goal of the IDF is to prevent an outbreak of the new variant at all their bases.

On Saturday evening, the Health Ministry disclosed that 5,466 new cases of the coronavirus had been identified on Friday. Meanwhile, in other Israel news, Idan Roll, the Deputy Foreign Minister had been filmed at an indoor party for celebrating the New Year without a mask. This was despite multiple calls from the Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz about acting responsibly because of the surge in Omicron-driven infections in Israel. The post on Instagram has now been deleted, but showed Roll at the party without a mask. Harel Skaat, Israeli singer, and Roll’s husband was the one who filmed him.

Bennett had asked every member of his cabinet in December to avoid going to crowded events and to wear masks in order to set an example. The deputy foreign minister disclosed that the private event had been conducted in accordance with all coronavirus restrictions. He further added that all participants had also been required to show a negative test for COVID-19 conducted on the day of the event. Shas MK Moshe appealed to the leader of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Gilad Kariv, to not bring the coronavirus restrictions that had been approved by the Israeli government, for a vote on Sunday.

Arbel said that the ‘lawlessness’ from Roll’s showed that the new restrictions for the coronavirus in Israel were not deserving of the cooperation and support of the Knesset and the public. Arbel said that there couldn’t be a different law for elected officials and civilians. Roll’s office said that they had followed all coronavirus directives and it had been a private event. He also said that all event participants had shown a negative test on the day of the event. The Health Ministry had passed several preventative measures on Thursday, including mandatory wearing of masks outdoors and approving the fourth shot of the vaccine for people who have a compromised immune system. They are not contemplating approving the shot for the rest of the people.

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