Israel entry rules: COVID testing and quarantine scrapped for arrivals

·3-min read
Israel entry rules: COVID testing and quarantine scrapped for arrivals

Israel will drop all Covid-19 entry rules from Saturday (May 21).

Travellers will be able visit the Middle Eastern country without showing proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test result.

Previously, visitors had to show a negative test taken within 24 hours before departure. They also had to take a PCR test on arrival at Israeli airports, and isolate until receiving a negative result - a process which usually takes around 12 hours.

“This is the news we have been waiting for, for more than two years,” said Sharon Ehrlich Bershadsky, director of the Israel Government Tourist Office in London.

“With Israel joining many other countries in dropping all Covid restrictions, I am hopeful the travel industry has now reached a crucial milestone in this post-pandemic world.”

What are Israel’s entry rules and how are they changing?

AMIR COHEN/REUTERS
Travellers exit the COVID pandemic testing area at Ben Gurion International Airport. - AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

Pre-departure Covid tests were scrapped for Israelis back in March - but tourists were still subject to strict rules.

In welcome news for those planning a trip to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, these tests - and on-arrival PCR tests - will be ditched for all visitors from Saturday May 21.

Under current rules, all arrivals, citizens and foreign nationals alike, must test (again) after stepping off their flight. At Ben Gurion, passengers are directed to makeshift PCR testing stations in a corner of the main terminal normally reserved for airline check-in counters.

Currently, you must self-isolate for at least 24 hours, or until a negative PCR result is received, which usually takes around 12 hours. If the test is positive, 14 days of home isolation await - though can be halved with another PCR test on day 7.

From Saturday 21 May, this costly and time-consuming rule will be ditched.

Announcing the new rules, Israel’s Ministry of Health declared said Covid infection numbers have “dropped to a number low enough where it is safe enough to relax restrictions further”.

There are now around 2,400 new daily cases in the country - according to WHO statistics for 17 May - way down from the peak of nearly 250,000 in January this year.

Other measures are set to stay, however, including the requirement to fill out an entry statement form 48 hours before your journey to Israel.

This has been required in the country since before the pandemic.

At present, tourists must also take out a health insurance policy to cover the costs of Covid treatment if they fall ill whilst abroad.

Unvaccinated tourists can travel to Israel, but it’s a riskier venture as (unless you’ve recently recovered from the virus) you won’t be eligible for a Green Pass which exempts you from needing to isolate if you come into contact with a Covid case while in Israel.

Do you have to wear a mask in Israel?

Masks are no longer required indoors in Israel, after a government review in late April. Flights are one exception to this, as well as hospitals and care homes.

Depending on where you’re staying, the new local councils traffic light system provides an up-to-date picture of the latest Covid stats and guidance in public places.

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