Health Ministry announces cancellation of few remaining COVID restrictions
Obligatory home isolation for those with the virus to end in May, rule requiring masks in medical facilities and retirement homes discontinued this week
Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday announced the cancellation of some of the few remaining COVID-19 restrictions, including obligatory home isolation quarantine for those diagnosed with the virus, which will end on May 15.
Authorities also canceled a rule requiring masks in medical facilities and retirement homes, and the requirement for visitors to present a negative COVID test at retirement homes. Those orders will take effect at midnight between Wednesday and Thursday.
The Health Ministry recommended that at-risk populations, including those 65 and older, continue to wear masks indoors for their own safety.
Health Ministry statistics on Tuesday showed that severe infections were low, although the virus continued to circulate.
In the past week, 15 Israelis died while infected with COVID-19, bringing the toll since the start of the pandemic to 12,242. There were 91 serious cases on Tuesday and 323 infected people in hospitals.
The number of new infections and hospitalized cases have remained relatively low since a spike during the summer of 2022. Infections peaked in January of last year.
There were 4,510 active cases on Tuesday, and over 4.7 million diagnosed cases since the start of the pandemic.
At the height of the pandemic, Israel imposed severe restrictions to halt infections, including barring most international travel, shuttering schools, closing non-essential businesses, limiting indoor gatherings and requiring masks in public spaces.
Israel officially lifted the indoor mask mandate in April 2022, scrapping one of the few remaining restrictions that were still in place more than two years into the pandemic.
Between April 2020 and April 2022, Israelis were required to wear face coverings indoors for all but 10 days in June 2021, when the mandate was briefly lifted before being swiftly brought back amid burgeoning cases at the time.
Last month, the Health Ministry’s vaccine committee said COVID shots should become an annual norm if infection rates remain low. The position isn’t yet policy, but the committee’s recommendations tend to be implemented.