Israel agreed on Thursday to ease COVID travel restrictions to so-called "red" countries for Israelis living abroad, allowing them to leave the country and return to their places of residence.
According to the new guidelines, approved by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Israelis who claim that the center of their life is abroad, will be able to return to Israel after 30 days from their last visit to a "red" country, down from the previous requirement of 90 days.
Israel instituted a travel ban on many African, European and North American countries, as well as others, due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID.
Citizens wishing to travel to those destinations had to receive special permission from a committee in the Interior Ministry, and show cause.
On Tuesday, those prevented for travel - although they could prove they were living abroad - protested at the Ben Gurion Airport.
The work of the committee was criticized for being slow, clumsy, and bureaucratic, and those who were ultimately able to board flights were required to sign a commitment that they would not return to Israel for at least three months once they leave.
Knesset Member Yomtob Kalfon raised the issue before the Knesset Constitution Committee and claimed that the 90-day ban on return was too severe for Israelis who live abroad.
"Why does a mother who works abroad, and has a four-year-old child in Israel, have to leave here for 90 days?" he asked, referring to the case of a woman who works in France, but her family lives in Israel.
Along with the criticism on the length of time before approval was given, people complained about missing forms and misleading information on the government's website.
First published: 18:34, 12.23.21