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EXPLAINER: Can I still enter Switzerland?

After the Federal Council imposed travel restrictions into the Swiss territory last week, many people are confused about whether they are still allowed to come to Switzerland. We explain who can enter and who can't.

EXPLAINER: Can I still enter Switzerland?
Police monitors the border between France and Switzerland near Basel. Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

Can I still come to Switzerland?

That depends. If you are a Swiss citizen or permanent resident, or you are a cross-border worker with a valid G-permit, then you can still enter the country.

You will also be allowed access if you can prove that you must travel in Switzerland for professional reasons. Transit and transport of commercial (but not private) goods remain authorised as well.  

According to the Federal Council, these restrictive measures apply to vehicles, railways, as well as air traffic from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, and all non-Schengen countries. Liechtenstein is not affected by this measure because it is part of the Swiss customs territory.

In addition, the Federal Council suspended the issuance of Schengen and national visas to third-country nationals for a period currently set at three months. These people may only enter Switzerland in exceptional cases.

Examples of such exceptions include family members of Swiss citizens or permanent residents, or specialists in the medical field.

Given these stringent measures, tourists or random visitors are no longer permitted to enter Switzerland.

Why have such strict regulations been implemented?

The Federal Council decided to limit access into Switzerland in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus from other infected countries.

To date, Switzerland has registered some 3,800 cases of COVID-19, including 33 deaths, making the small Alpine country of 8.5 million people one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic compared to its population size.

READ MORE: Switzerland faces looming lack of hospital beds as coronavirus death toll rises

“These measures aim to protect the Swiss population and maintain the capacities of the Swiss health system”, authorities said.

This all the more important since at present only around 160 intensive care beds out of 800 remain free, as demand is expected to soar.

Where is the border traffic the heaviest?

Most of the traffic is at border crossings between Italy and Ticino, and France and Geneva. Both cantons have a high number of frontalier workers who commute to their Swiss jobs every day.

In total, 85,000 French citizens work in Geneva, making up 60 percent of the personnel at the canton’s university hospital (HUG).

And 67,800 Italian employees make up more than a quarter of the total workforce in Ticino. Some 4,000 are employed in the canton’s health sector.

What is the current situation at Switzerland's borders?

In total, 130 border crossings between Switzerland and Italy, France, Germany, and Austria, had been totally or partially closed.

Here is a full list of closed borders.

With border closures and strict controls now under way, bottlenecks slow down the traffic at all entry points. 

To remedy the situation, Geneva authorities are issuing special ‘priority’ stickers to health care workers to allow them faster transit through customs.

READ MORE: Geneva’s cross-border traffic streamlined based on priority 

Due to tight border restrictions, around 11,000 people had been refused entry to Switzerland in recent days, said Christian Bock, the head of the Swiss customs.

What is happening at airports?

The situation at international airports in Zurich, Geneva and Basel is calm, as many flights to and from Switzerland have been cancelled.

Passengers on flights that do land are submitted to the same strict rules as those arriving by land. Those who do not meet entry requirements (see above) and are denied entry are accompanied to a transfer desk, “with the responsibility for covering the return flight falling on the airline involved”, according to swissinfo.





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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?