Israel’s Mandatory COVID Test Requirement for Arrivals to be Scrapped Soon

On Tuesday, media reports indicated that Israel would soon scrap the requirement of travelers having to get tested for COVID-19. According to the current COVID-19 rules that are applicable in Israel, anyone landing at the Ben Gurion Airport has to take a PCR test and the travelers are required to pay for it themselves. Once testing is complete, arrivals have to either wait for the test results, or quarantine for 24 hours, whichever happens first. The media reports indicate that the Health Ministry would soon announce the removal of this testing requirement.

It is expected to come into effect from the beginning of next month. Last month, the former coronavirus czar for Israel had called for the requirement to be removed. He had said that the tests were no longer necessary because they were useful for detecting only a small number of daily injections. Furthermore, the government had also put an end to its indoor mask mandate in the last month due to declining morbidity in the country. The mask rule had been flouted rather widely and had been one of the last couple of COVID restrictions that had been applicable in the country.

The coronavirus numbers in Israel have been showing a downward trend of late. The total number of active cases of COVID-19 in Israel as of Tuesday stood at 20,545 and the number of new cases identified a day earlier was around 2,209. There are around 497 people in Israel who are hospitalized due to the coronavirus and out of these 169 of them are considered serious, while 70 of the patients have been put on ventilators. The transmission number, also known as the ‘R’ number, which measures the average number of people a coronavirus carrier can infect, stood at 0.75. 

This is an indication that the virus is shrinking, while a reading higher than 1 shows that the virus is spreading. Meanwhile, the latest statistics showed that the unemployment rate in Israel has dropped to its lowest it has been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Numbers indicated that the rate had been 4.8% in March, but had reduced further to 4.4% in April. The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) published data showing that there had been 186,000 people in Israel who hadn’t been working in April, while the number had stood at 227,200 in March. Before the pandemic struck the country, there had been 150,000 people in Israel without jobs.

It should be noted that the overall rate includes people who have been fired, or their workplaces have shut down since March 2020 because of the pandemic. It also includes those who are on unpaid leaves and expect to go back to their workplaces. If people affected by the pandemic are excluded from the numbers, the unemployment rate stands at 2.9% in April, which is the lowest in the last 50 years. The rate before the pandemic was around 3.5%. The average wage had declined in January, but had bounced back the next month. 

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