Israel is canceling its designation of the United States and seven other countries as presenting high COVID-19 risk, Health Ministry Director-General Nachman Ash said on Thursday.
Last month Israel barred travel to those countries among dozens of "red" destinations in an effort to slow an Omicron-fuelled surge in cases.
That ban followed a move in late November to block entry to all foreign tourists. Israel this week announced that vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries could enter the country.
The move will allow Israelis to travel again anywhere in the world without needing special governmental permission, or to quarantine for a week upon their return – provided that they are vaccinated.
In addition to the United States, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mexico, Switzerland and Turkey will be removed from the "red" destinations list.
Ash said that the decision was based on the fact that in light of the high morbidity already in Israel, maintaining the borders closed would not help.
The new measure will be in force as of midnight, subject to approval by the Cabinet and a parliamentary panel
Inbound travelers will still present a COVID test in order to board the flight (either PCR taken less than 72 hours prior to the hour of departure or antigen less than 24 hours before departure) and take a PCR in Israel upon landing. Those who are vaccinated will be able to leave quarantine as soon as they receive the results or after 24 hours, those who aren’t for a week and take a second test on the seventh day.
Despite the change in the definition of the countries, a Health Ministry statement said, it should be noted that in many countries around the world coronavirus morbidity is higher than in Israel, and therefore it is advisable to avoid traveling to these locations unless necessary.
On Monday, Israel lifted most travel restrictions and being to allow admittance foreigners with presumed COVID-19 immunity.
The Health Ministry said travelers from countries deemed medium-risk will be allowed to enter Israel from January 9 if they have received coronavirus vaccines or have recovered from COVID-19.