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Israel to ease COVID restrictions for travelers by early March

Health Ministry recommends canceling pre-flight COVID tests and Green Passport requirements, allowing entry for unvaccinated non-Israeli children under 12

Passengers seen outside Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Feb. 1, 2022. (Photo: Flash90)

Following a significant decrease in new COVID-19 infections, the Israeli Health Ministry announced on Wednesday its recommendation to ease some pandemic-related restrictions by March 1.

The suggested measures – supported by Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz –require government approval.

Under the new guidelines, Israelis returning to the country will no longer be required to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight, even if they are unvaccinated. Upon landing, all arrivals will still be required to take a PCR test at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Non-Israelis will still be required to show proof of vaccination to enter the country. However, this does not include unvaccinated non-Israeli children under the age of 12, who will only be required to quarantine until they receive a negative test result. 

In addition, the Green Passport requirement will be removed from large gatherings, such as weddings, concerts and conferences. The Health Ministry decided, though, to keep in place the indoor mask mandate. 

The Israeli government is planning to gradually lift almost all COVID-19 restrictions by early March, according to Israeli media reports. The Coronavirus Cabinet is expected to convene in the coming days to approve the phased plan. 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett indicated that he would like to see the remaining restrictions lifted in order to help the country’s tourism industry. The new policies are set to take effect ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover, which is known as a desired travel and vacation period.  

Israeli media reports that Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov has been pushing for the reopening of Israel to tourists and mobilizing support for the lifting of remaining restrictions. 

Razvozov wrote to Bennett two weeks ago: "In light of the refusal to vaccinate children below the age of 18 in many countries around the world, we must stipulate that from March 1, unvaccinated children accompanied by vaccinated parents, will be allowed to enter Israel. This is customary in many countries around the world and we should not be left behind."

Israel reported a decrease of 25% in the number of COVID patients in serious condition over the last 10 days, with the number standing at 927 as of Wednesday. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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