Israel scraps pre-departure and arrival PCR tests for all travellers

Two separate PCR tests have been required for all non-Israelis to enter Israel


Israel is scrapping pre-departure and arrival PCR tests for all travellers arriving into the country from later this month, the country’s Ministry of Health has announced.

From Tuesday May 10, the rules are changing so that travellers flying to Israel will be only have to take an antigen (lateral flow) test a maximum of 24 hours before departure, but will still have to take a PCR test on arrival.

Ten days later (Friday, May 20), the arrival PCR test will be scrapped completely, with arrivals into Israel no longer required to take any form of test on landing. The pre-departure antigen test, or PCR test if preferred, will remain mandatory, however.

Up until now, foreign arrivals had to take a PCR test within 72 hours before departure in addition to a second PCR test on landing at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv due to Covid-19.

The change of rules was announced this morning in a statement on Israel’s Ministry of Health’s Twitter page, which reads: “Passengers landing at Ben Gurion Airport starting on May 20, 2022 will no longer be required to perform a PCR test.

“The decision was made in light of the decline in morbidity data and at the end of discussions that took place between the professionals in the Ministry of Health and the staff of the Airports Authority.”

The scrapping of PCR tests on arrival into Israel marks the end of the country’s Covid-19 restrictions, with masks no longer required and no restrictions on gatherings in public places.

Israel’s Minister for Tourism, Yoel Razvozov, tweeted that the rules change is “better late than never”, adding: “When this is not necessary, there is no point in simply fining Israelis and tourists and creating queues and congestion at Ben Gurion Airport.”

Pre-departure PCR tests cost anything up to around £200, depending on the country of departure and company used, and the arrival PCR tests cost ISL63.20 (£15).

Sharon Ehrlich Bershadsky, Director, Israel Government Tourist office in London commented: “As consumer confidence grows in line with restrictions easing, it was important that we made the entry process as simple as possible for travellers whilst keeping health and safety a top priority.

“We are hopeful that the easing of on-arrival PCR tests will help encourage tourists to put Israel on their holiday lists this year.”

Despite this announcement, Israel intends to ensure the PCR testing system can be reactivated if needed, with the Ministry of Health statement adding: “It was agreed that the professionals would formulate a mechanism for maintaining the suitability of the testing system at Ben Gurion Airport, in order to enable it to be operated quickly, in full or in part when necessary.”

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