Israel Will Open Its Borders To Unvaccinated Tourists On March 1

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Earlier this week, a plan was announced by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz to ease certain COVID restrictions on education and travel beginning on March 1.

According to the new guidelines, both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists will be permitted entry to Israel if they submit a negative PCR test before boarding the flight, and a second one after landing in Israel. Returning Israeli citizens will not have to undergo a preflight test, but only a PCR upon landing.

The unvaccinated Israelis who return to Israel will not need to be quarantined if they test negative upon landing.

The announcement came after the Health Ministry last week recommended easing the COVID-19 restrictions as the fifth wave of infections stemming from the Omicron variant recedes. According to the new regulations, Israeli schoolchildren will also be exempt from mandatory home COVID tests, beginning on Thursday for middle school students and March 10 for elementary school students.

“We’re experiencing a steady decline in morbidity data, so now is the time to gradually open what we closed first,” Bennett said after a meeting on the issue Sunday with Horowitz and Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov. In the present situation, the situation in Israel is good…At the same time, we will closely monitor the situation and in the event that a new variant arises, we will act quickly, Bennett added.

The Health Ministry had originally recommended only allowing unvaccinated tourists under the age of 12 to enter the country, and only if they are accompanied by vaccinated parents. Razvozov, however, was opposed to the proposal and demanding that unvaccinated children under the age of 18 be allowed in, citing tourism-related concerns.

Since March 2020, Israel shut its borders to foreign visitors. The number of visitors has gradually increased after some restrictions were lifted, but it is still well below pre-pandemic levels. Last month, Israel welcomed 46,000 tourists, up from 7,800 a year earlier, but much lower than the 333,000 that flocked to the country in January 2020.

Health Ministry data released on Sunday showed that 10,354 new COVID cases were diagnosed on Saturday, the lowest number since 6,615 on January 2. The number of people diagnosed tends to be lower on weekends because fewer tests are conducted.

An official from the Health Ministry told the Kan public broadcaster that if the decline in cases continues, it is likely the mask requirement will be lifted before the Passover festival in April.

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