Health officials are calling to do away with the COVID-19 test requirement for travelers arriving in Israel from abroad, while also examining whether to end the country's indoor mask mandate after Passover.
Among some of the arguments cited for the move are the continued decline of the country's fifth coronavirus wave, which saw over 4 million Israelis infected with the pathogen; and the high availability of vaccines for everyone from the age of five and life-saving therapeutics for at-risk groups.
Another factor is the relatively high cost of the tests, which can total up to hundreds of dollars for groups or families traveling together.
They also noted that Israel is one of the few countries the world over that still requires a coronavirus test from inbound travelers.
However, other voices within the Health Ministry believe the testing requirement must be upheld to allow early detection of new variants that might crop up across the globe and in Israel. Responding to a Ynet request for comment, the ministry said that no discussion has yet been scheduled on this issue.
Ministry data shows there has been a sharp drop in the number of travelers who have tested positive for coronavirus upon their arrival in Israel. Only 1.4% of tests yielded a positive result over the ten-day period prior to last Monday, compared to some 10% until recently.
Prof. Dror Mevorach, who heads a COVID ward at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem said he believes that Israel should gradually phase out the practice, taking cost-benefit considerations into account.
Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, Director of the School of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University and a member of Israel’s national advisory board for the pandemic, told Ynet he thinks the testing requirement must stand for the time being for those arriving from countries with significant coronavirus outbreaks.