More than two years after the beginning of the pandemic in Israel, the country finally ended the requirement of people landing at the Ben Gurion Airport to take COVID-19 tests from Saturday onwards. Israel is gradually removing the restrictions that are still applicable on the public in accordance with the declining statistics. Whether the travelers are Israeli or foreign ones, they will not have to present a negative test result before they board a flight to the country. According to the Health Ministry in Israel, they had decided to make upgrades to the rules because of the declining coronavirus morbidity in the country.
The new rules would be applicable to all air, land as well as sea crossings. However, it should be noted that travelers would still have to complete a health declaration form at least 48 hours before they arrive by sea or air. Before this new rule came into effect, those landing at the Ben Gurion Airport were required to take a test and they had to pay for it themselves. Once a test was taken, the arrivals were required to wait for the test results, or to quarantine themselves for 24 hours, depending on which came first.
Along with this removal, the requirement for wearing face masks on the majority of the international flights would also be eliminated from Monday onwards. But, flights to certain destinations could still require face masks in accordance with international regulations. The requirement for face masks in Israel in indoor spaces had been removed back in April. Prof. Michael Edelstein, a leading epidemiologist, said that there is a period of calm in Israel and that the situation is stable for now. But, he did warn against complacency because there could still be new variants and this could lead to a spike in morbidity.
The virus still continues to circulate globally, which means it is possible for new cases and variants to come to Israel. He said that immunity against infection was at an all-time high right now, but this could change. But, he did add that it was possible for Israel to cope up with new variants without having to go through a crisis like before. In the start of the pandemic, Edelstein had been one of the top health officials in England. Since then, he has come to the Bar Ilan University in Israel and is working on coronavirus vaccines and other research projects.
He did say that it still was not time to start calling COVID-19 as an endemic because there could still be a rise in infections, if new variants are discovered and they turn out to be contagious. As of Friday, the total number of active coronavirus cases in Israel were about 16,160 and the number of people in serious condition stood at 89. This week was the first time that the number of serious cases of COVID-19 in Israel had dropped below the 100 mark in months. As for the death toll in Israel, it has now reached a total of 10,827 in Israel.