Ministers extend COVID test requirement for travelers entering Israel

Government ministers on Monday voted to extend the requirement that travelers get tested for COVID-19 before coming to Israel.

A government statement said the rule will now be in force until May 4.

The mandate requires travelers to undergo a coronavirus test within 72 hours before entering the country and another one at the border terminal upon arrival.

Entry to Israel has been highly restricted since late January, when the government ordered the closure of Ben Gurion Airport, including for Israeli citizens, citing concerns of vaccine-resistant coronavirus variants entering the country.

The government later eased restrictions on air travel for citizens ahead of the March 23 elections, but its cap limiting entry to 3,000 Israelis per day was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court of Justice.

However, entry continues to be limited to the “effective capacity” of the airport.

Last week, Israel reopened the Taba border crossing with Egypt to allow a limited number of vaccinated Israelis to visit the Sinai Peninsula for the Passover holiday.

Israel in recent months has significantly rolled back coronavirus restrictions by opening the economy, event venues and other activities, as morbidity levels have dropped amid the country’s world-leading vaccination drive.

According to the latest Health Ministry figures, 193 new coronavirus cases were confirmed Sunday, which along with another 252 since midnight, brought the number of infections since the pandemic began to 834,603.

The death toll stood at 6,248.

There were 5,025 active cases, with 323 people in serious condition, including 176 on ventilators.

The ministry said 5,273,362 Israelis have received at least one vaccine dose and 4,851,892 got both.

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