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Starting Saturday, air travel to Israel won’t require any COVID tests

Health Ministry says that, like Israelis, foreign arrivals won’t have to take PCR tests at Ben Gurion, nor will they have to test negative before boarding flights to Israel

Travelers arriving at  Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel enter the COVID-19 testing area, July 1, 2021. (Nati Shohat/FLASH90)
Travelers arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel enter the COVID-19 testing area, July 1, 2021. (Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

The Health Ministry announced Monday that beginning Saturday, May 21, both Israeli and foreign travelers will no longer be required to take a PCR test upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israeli and foreign travelers will also no longer be required to provide a negative test result prior to boarding a flight to Israel.

The rules were updated due to declining COVID-19 morbidity, the Health Ministry said, adding that they will apply at all land and sea crossings.

Travelers will still be required to fill out a health declaration form within 48 hours of flying.

The announcement appeared to supersede a previous one made by Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who said last week that the airport tests would cease starting May 20.

Horowitz said in a statement then that the system would be paused, “and we will be able to reactivate it as quickly as necessary.”

Travelers arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, November 1, 2021.(Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90/File)

Under current coronavirus rules, anyone landing at Ben Gurion Airport must take a test, which travelers must pay for themselves.

After testing, arrivals must quarantine for 24 hours or until they get the test results, whichever comes first.

The announcement came as serious COVID-19 cases in Israel briefly dropped to 99 for the first time since December 31, according to Health Ministry figures released Monday. Several hours later, the number ticked back up to 106.

The virus’s spread also increased for the first time in two months, with average new weekly cases seeing a 2.2 percent increase as of Monday. Testing for COVID has also increased by 4.4% over the last week.

There were 16,184 known active infections as of Monday evening, out of the 4,110,600 verified cases in Israel since the start of the pandemic. The number of COVID-related deaths stood at 10,805.

Separately, on Monday, the Ynet news site reported that health officials have in recent weeks weighed scrapping the requirement for Israelis to quarantine upon contracting the coronavirus.

The current rules require those who test positive to quarantine for five days and only after testing negative on the fourth and fifth day may they leave isolation, regardless of whether their symptoms subside beforehand.

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