Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz agreed to end compulsory PCR testing for COVID-19, for all arrivals at the Ben Gurion International Airport, as of May 20.
The decision comes less than two weeks after senior Health Ministry officials began debating the matter.
The ministry said the decision was made because of the continued reduction in morbidity from the virus, and following discussions with health professionals and the Airport Authority.
"Professionals will devise the means to preserve testing capabilities at the airport in case a need arises to reinstate the tests quickly," the ministry said.
Horowitz and the chairman of the Knesset Health Committee, Gilad Kariv, also decided that as of Tuesday, there would no longer be a requirement to present a PCR test before boarding a flight to Israel and an antigen test would be accepted.
Since March 1, Israel has not required its citizens to test overseas for COVID-19 before boarding a flight home.
At Ben Gurion, all arriving passengers, Israelis and foreigners, are now directed to PCR testing stations in a corner of the main terminal normally reserved for airline check-in counters.
Under the existing rules, arrivals must self-isolate for at least 24 hours, or until a negative PCR result is received, usually within 12 hours.
The government has been under public pressure to end the airport testing, which has added to passengers' travel costs and limited check-in space, causing long lines.
In the two weeks since the compulsory use of mask in indoor settings was cancelled, except where a population at risk is found, in retirement homes, hospitals and clinics and onboard international flights, there has not been a rise in COVID cases.
Officials said the number of seriously ill patients, suffering from complications of the virus, continues to drop and the R factor – indicating the spread of the virus in the community, is down as well as stands on 0.81
In the past two weeks, Israel has confirmed less than 2,000 new cases a day, on average, and the pandemic appears to be diminishing.
First published: 14:33, 05.08.22