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As of Saturday, travelers no longer need COVID tests to enter Israel

A week after the Health Ministry scrapped coronavirus tests at Tel Aviv airport, it lifts other entry requirements

Israel will scrap all COVID testing requirements for arriving passengers as of Saturday.

The Health Ministry said on Monday that all travelers, regardless of nationality, will no longer have to present a negative test result before boarding a plane to Israel and will not be asked to get tested upon entry.

The new regulations, revised in light of the declining rate of coronavirus infections in Israel, do away with PCR and rapid antigen tests for incoming travelers entering by air, land or sea

They will still be asked to fill out an entry form 48 hours before boarding their flight.

The change will go into effect on midnight into Saturday, Israel time.

Last week, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz announced the canceling of COVID tests at Ben-Gurion International Airport, which had been mandatory for returning Israelis and tourists alike.

Currently, samples from infected patients diagnosed at Ben-Gurion are sent to special DNA sequencing labs to determine whether they have a new variant of the virus not yet found in Israel. Health-care professionals who supported continuing the testing said that learning about new variants that enter the country is the main reason why these tests are important.

Consequently, before the new policy takes effect, the Health Ministry wants to find a way to institute a system for testing a representative sample of returning passengers. That way, it would still be able to track the entry of new variants.

Last week, the virus’ reproduction rate, known as the R number, rose above 1 for the first time in two months, to 1.03. Any figure above 1.0 means the virus is spreading. But since then, it has dropped below 1 again and currently stands at 0.98.

In late April, around 10 percent of returning travelers tested positive for COVID.

This story originally appeared in Ha’aretz.

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