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Out of quarantine, into the polling station. Then back to quarantine.

Three hours after some 10,000 polling stations on Monday morning opened their doors across the country for Israel’s 6,453,255 citizens eligible to vote, 16 specially equipped voting booths opened their tent flaps for the 5,630 voters who were under home quarantine due to precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Israel.

So far, 10 Israelis have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Israel has taken far-reaching steps to prevent an outbreak, banning entry to foreigners who were in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy in the 14 days prior to arriving, and compelling all Israelis recently in these areas to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The Israelis are, however, allowed out of quarantine in order to vote in the special polling stations. But they must take special precautions such as putting on face masks before they exit their vehicles and trying to make the trip to the voting station without being accompanied by others who are not in quarantine. They are also prohibited from stopping on the way to and from the voting stations.

Additionally, anyone who shows symptoms of the disease is forbidden from using even the special voting stations, the Health Ministry warned on Sunday. Those hospitalized can use special voting procedures already in place for patients.

Israel does not allow absentee ballots.

The polling stations, located in the cities of Jerusalem, Safed, Afula Illit, Haifa, Netanya, Tel Aviv, Holon, Beersheba, Ashkelon, Eilat, Rosh Ha’ayin, Modiin, and Kfar Saba, are each made up of two small tents with an adjoining window: in one tent sit Magen David Adom paramedics, specially trained for Monday as polling administrators; in the other, visible through the transparent plastic, the ballot box sits on a table behind a blue screen.

As voters arrived, they were greeted by polling staff wearing full protective gear who asked them to temporarily take off their face masks and checked their identity against their Israeli identity card.

Then, after each applying anti-bacterial hand gel, the voters were given a specially prepared pack with a new face mask and gloves to wear while voting.

The votes, which are being placed in a specially lined ballot box, will be sent to the Central Elections Committee, where they will counted by staff also wearing protective gear.

Additionally, anyone who shows symptoms of the disease is forbidden from using even the special voting stations, the Health Ministry warned on Sunday. Those hospitalized can use special voting procedures already in place for patients.

With police and medical authorities on alert Monday for attempts to disrupt the elections with fake coronavirus reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged citizens to go to the polls and telling them not to fear contracting coronavirus.

“I urge the citizens of Israel to go vote. This is a great democratic right and we should be proud of it,” Netanyahu said after voting in Jerusalem, in a normal polling station.

“We have done everything we can against the coronavirus. Everything is under control and we have taken every possible measure. Don’t believe fake news, you can vote with determination and confidence,” he said.

Header: An Israeli under home quarantine arrives to cast a vote in a special polling station outside the city of Modiin, March 2, 2020 (Raoul Wootliff/Times of Israel)