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Israel to end mandatory COVID-19 tests for arrivals at Tel Aviv airport

Israel said it was ending mandatory COVID-19 testing for arrivals at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport. File photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel said on Sunday it was ending mandatory COVID-19 testing for arrivals at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, but foreigners would still have to test negative overseas before boarding a flight to the country.

The health ministry said testing at Ben Gurion would no longer be required as of May 20. It cited a drop in daily infection numbers, from more than 6,000 to fewer than 2,000 over the past month, for the decision.

As of Tuesday, foreigners can opt to take a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of departure for Israel, rather than a PCR test, within 72 hours of travel, currently required, the ministry said in a statement.

Since March 1, Israel has not required its citizens to test overseas for COVID-19 before boarding a flight home.

At Ben Gurion, all arriving passengers, Israelis and foreigners, are now directed to PCR testing stations in a corner of the main terminal normally reserved for airline check-in counters.

Under the existing rules, arrivals must self-isolate for at least 24 hours, or until a negative PCR result is received, usually within 12 hours.

The government has been under public pressure to end the airport testing, which has added to passengers’ travel costs and limited check-in space, causing long lines.

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