Israel will resume commercial flights by mid-July at the earliest due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the chief of country's biggest airport said Monday.
Ben Gurion Airport Managing Director Shmuel Zakai said even when the flights eventually restart, the number of departing planes will remain low for the forceeable future.
"Social distancing regulations at airports won't allow us to increase passenger capacity," said Zakai. "If we'll keep up at this pace, we'll see a few dozen flights departing from Ben-Gurion Airport starting mid-July and not earlier. As long as there is no vaccine for coronavirus and the disease keeps moving across countries there will be no significant change."
In addition, the Israel Airports Authority (governmental body that oversees the management of the country's major civil airports) presented a plan to Health Ministry's senior officials outlining the best way to relaunch commercial flights as coronavirus infection rates continue to decline nationwide.
As part of the new procedures at Israel's main gateway, all travelers will be subjected to temperature checks upon their arrival and will be required to wear face masks. Those who accompany the passengers will no longer be allowed to enter airports.
Hand sanitizer posts will be scattered across the airport's premises and waiting areas will be marked to ensure travelers keep a safe distance from each other.
Zakai also noted that Israel and several other nations with low coronavirus infection rates, regarded as "green countries", are examining a new model that would allow travel between the countries without a compulsory 14-day self-isolation period for arrivals.
"It seems that whoever arrives from a 'green country', whether Israeli or foreign, will not be required to self-isolate upon their arrival in Israel," said Zakai.
The list of so-called green countries includes Greece, Cyprus, Seychelles, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Iceland, among others.
Tourism in Israel has been severely crippled since the beginning of the virus outbreak in mid-March, with hotel, restaurant, and airline representatives pleading the government to provide additional relief to their struggling industries and urging fewer movement restrictions.