COVID-19 sign in front of plane
COVID-19 sign in front of plane iStock

Israel will drop its limits on entry to foreign nationals starting next month, ending two years of strict restrictions on the entry of tourists.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), and Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid) met Sunday to discuss the possibility of ending most restrictions on entry to foreign tourists.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the ministers agreed to permit both vaccinated and unvaccinated nationals of all ages to enter the country on tourist visas to enter Israel, on condition that they test negative on two PCR tests – one before boarding their flight and one upon arrival in Israel.

"We are seeing a steady decline in the morbidity data; therefore, this is the time to gradually open what we were the first in the world to close," Bennett said.

"Our indicators must be in sync with the situation on the ground; what we are telling the public must be in sync with what is expected of it. In order to maintain the public's trust and be certain that the citizens of Israel are implementing the directives and the government's decision, we must open up as the situation improves – and it is improving significantly."

"At the moment, the situation in Israel is good. This is the result of correct and dynamic management; therefore, we are now opening up. At the same time, we will continue to closely monitor the situation and in the event of a new variant, we will again act quickly."

During Sunday’s meeting, the ministers also decided to drop the requirement for Israelis traveling abroad to take a rapid antigen test before boarding, though the requirement on returning Israeli travelers to take a PCR test will remain in force.

Furthermore, the ministers agreed to drop the requirement that unvaccinated Israeli travelers returning to Israel quarantine upon arrival.

The changes are set to go into effect on March 1st.

Prime Minister Bennett, Health Minister Horowitz, Health Ministry director-general Nachman Ash, and other senior government officials, also agreed to gradually ease the rapid antigen testing requirements for school children.

Currently, children are required to undergo home testing twice a week, with parents reporting the results to the Health Ministry.

Bennett and Horowitz agreed Sunday that the requirement will be dropped in middle schools starting this Thursday, and in elementary schools starting March 10th.