Israeli Officials Back Lifting Most COVID Restrictions, but Not Letting Unvaccinated Tourists In

In a discussion set to be held Thursday, Bennett is expected to support lifting measures by March 1

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, this year.
Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, this year.Credit: Emil Salman
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is backing lifting coronavirus restrictions put in place to counter the omicron variant by March 1, which may include allowing unvaccinated tourists into the country.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry presented a plan to Bennett to gradually lift coronavirus restrictions. The ministry will discuss the matter once again on Wednesday evening, ahead of Thursday's meeting.

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The plan calls for cancelling COVID tests before a flight on its way to Israel, but keeping tests upon landing, as well as cancelling the quarantine requirement for unvaccinated Israelis upon returning from abroad.

Additionally, the plan allows children under the age of 12 accompanied by vaccinated adults into the country, but they will still be required to quarantine until receiving a negative test result.

Moreover, the Green Pass certificate will no longer be required at events, but the indoor mask mandate will remain in place.

Bennett and the Health Ministry still have not reached an agreement regarding allowing unvaccinated people over the age of 12 into the country. The Health Ministry opposes the measure.

In a discussion set to be held Thursday, Bennett is expected to ask to renew the entry of unvaccinated foreigners into Israel as soon as next week, which would allow families with children – who have not been vaccinated yet due to their age – to enter the country.

A discussion on revoking the regulation to present a proof of vaccination at events and conferences is also expected next week. A final decision on the matter is subject to the approval of medical experts.

The expert panel will also discuss coronavirus guidelines in schools and the requirement to wear masks indoors, but it has not yet been clarified whether a decision is expected to be made to change the rules on these issues.

According to the Health Ministry, 20,340 people tested positive for COVID on Tuesday. The number of serious cases continues to decline, and is currently standing at 927. The R number, indicating how many people each carrier will infect on average, has also slightly decreased – from 0.7 to 0.68.

This downward trend also persists in the rate of positive tests. Of the 121,193 tests conducted Tuesday, 18.73 percent returned positive. Since the outbreak of the virus, there have been 9,651 COVID-related deaths in Israel.

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