Israel plans to open its borders to all tourists, no matter their Covid-19 vaccination status, starting March 1.
While all incoming tourists will need negative PCR test results before takeoff and after landing in Israel, this will be the first time unvaccinated visitors will be allowed into the country since March 2020.
Israeli nationals returning to the country will only need to take a PCR test upon arrival. The previous requirement for an antigen test before boarding will be lifted effective March 1.
Unvaccinated Israeli nationals will no longer have to quarantine as long as their PCR test results are negative.
‘Decline in the morbidity data’
The decision comes after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held discussions with Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz on easing coronavirus restrictions.
“We are seeing a steady decline in the morbidity data; therefore, this is the time to gradually open what we were the first in the world to close,” Prime Minister Bennett said in a statement on Sunday.
The number of new Covid cases in Israel has declined significantly over the past few weeks. After reporting a record high 617,565 new cases for the week ending January 30, Israel logged 126,762 new cases in the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
The barring of tourism since March 2020 is estimated to have cost the Israeli economy more than $7.02 billion, according to the Israeli Tourism Ministry. Israel had a record tourist turnout the year before the pandemic, with 4.55 million visitors in 2019, adding $7.2 billion to the local economy.
Tourists who could present proof of being fully vaccinated have been allowed entry into Israel since November, subject to pre- and post-flight PCR tests and a short quarantine, although tourist numbers have remained low.
Top image: An aerial view shows the beaches in Israel’s Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv in May, 2021. (Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images)
CNN’s Hadas Gold and Amir Tal contributed to this report.