May 16, 2022

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With Virus Cases Declining, Officials may Scrap Indoor Mask Requirement

3 min read

On Sunday, data released by the Health Ministry showed a further drop in the coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Israel. A senior ministry official stated that if the trend was to continue, they would scrap the requirement for wearing face masks indoor in weeks. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced a plan for easing certain COVID-19 restrictions on education and travel with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz. These would come into effect from March 1st. According to the new guidelines, the country will open its borders for both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists, as long as they can provide negative PCR tests before they board the flight.

They would also have to take another PCR test at the time of landing. A pre-flight test would not be required for an Israeli citizen returning to the country but would have to take one when they land. If unvaccinated Israelis test negative upon their return, they will not have to quarantine. This announcement came after the Health Ministry had recommended last week that restrictions be eased in Israel because the fifth wave of coronavirus infections in the country was waning, which had been brought on by the Omicron variant. As per the new regulations, Israeli schoolchildren will no longer have to take mandatory home tests for COVID.

This would be implemented from Thursday for middle schoolers and from 10th March for elementary school students. On Sunday, the premier had a meeting with Travel Minister Yoel Razvozov and Horowitz. He said that morbidity data showed a consistent decline due to which it is time to open the borders, as they had been the first in the world to close them. He said that they had to maintain the public’s trust and ensure their compliance with the directives. Therefore, they have to open up with the situation improving. 

He added that Israel’s situation is a good one at the moment, but they will continue to monitor the situation closely, in case there is a new variant so they can act quickly. Originally, the Health Ministry had said that only unvaccinated kids under the age of 12 be allowed to enter the country, as long as their vaccinated parents accompanied them. But, this proposal had received strong opposition from Razvozov and he demanded that all unvaccinated individuals below 18 be permitted to enter. Nachman Shai, the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, was pleased with the government’s decision.

He stated that it was a boon for people all over the globe who had been struggling to visit Israel since the beginning of the pandemic. He said that he was pleased with the prime minister’s decision to allow thousands of families to meet after a long period of separation, both Jews and non-Jews. He went on to say that after two years of dealing with the pandemic, it is time to adopt a more normal reality and live with the virus, while taking the appropriate measures necessary for preserving public health. Shai said that families can now celebrate Purim and Passover together. 

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