Arrivals at Ben Gurion Airport

Israel ends mask mandate on international flights

As virus cases keep dropping, Israel continues gradually shedding pandemic-induced restrictions; 'You can finally see people smile,' says traveler at Ben Gurion Airport

Roy Rubinstein |
Published: 05.23.22, 20:01
Israel on Monday scrapped its coronavirus mask mandate on international flights, as well as a compulsory 24-hour isolation period for incoming travelers.
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  • The move comes as the country opted to do away with all COVID-19-related and return to normalcy as the pandemic further subsides. This comes shortly after Israel moved to end its coronavirus testing requirement before boarding flights and a month after it lifted its mask mandate in indoor settings almost a month ago.
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    הנוסעים שנחתו ממינסק בנתב"ג
    הנוסעים שנחתו ממינסק בנתב"ג
    Arrivals at Ben Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    "It's very exciting," said Tamar Farjun, who was at Ben Gurion Airport with her partner and child, all of whom returned to Israel from a trip to the United States.
    "When we flew out, we were forced to put on masks and it was so uncomfortable, but suddenly, we can go without masks. After so much time, it's really fun and liberating. It feels really good."
    Kobi, Tamar’s partner, echoed her excitement, though he added that the mask mandate on flights was removed a while ago in the U.S.
    "[In Israel] we are always a little behind, but I'm glad the government made that move, it was time. There is finally air and we can all breathe a little better on the flight."
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    קובי, תמר ובתם בנתב"ג
    קובי, תמר ובתם בנתב"ג
    Kobi and Tamar at Ben Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Roy Rubinstein)
    Sigal Sternberg — who flew several times during the pandemic — was also relieved at the prospect of finally traveling without masks.
    "You can finally see people smile. It's true that there are people who still use masks, and we might still use them as well, but what is most alarming about the mask is the fact that you can’t see people’s faces,” said Sternberg.
    Nevo Oren and Dor Golberg both returned from Budapest, where they say the feeling of normalcy has long returned.
    "In Budapest, the feeling was that [the pandemic] was over and life was back to normal, no one on the flight was wearing a mask and no tests were needed,” said Golberg.
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    מאהל בדיקות קורונה נתב"ג
    מאהל בדיקות קורונה נתב"ג
    Coronavirus testing station at Ben Gurion Airport
    (Photo: Tal Shahar)
    While Israel is seemingly beating other countries vis-à-vis the abolishment of certain pandemic-induced restrictions, the recent decline in coronavirus cases in Israel reportedly prompted a series of discussions at the Health Ministry on whether to end the quarantine requirement for confirmed coronavirus patients altogether.
    Ministry officials estimate that Israel's last COVID-induced restriction will be canceled after the number of daily cases stabilizes at a few hundred.
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