Coronavirus and travel: Will it be possible to leave Switzerland in the summer?

Coronavirus and travel: Will it be possible to leave Switzerland in the summer?
Aeroplanes at Geneva Airport. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Health Minister Alain Berset told the Swiss people “we have no influence over what happens in other countries”, casting doubt on the likelihood of summer travel.

With Switzerland set to start loosening the coronavirus lockdown restrictions from April 27th, one major question has been whether or not Swiss residents will be able to travel in summer.

Swiss internet traffic has seen a marked increase in people searching for trips abroad, however Health Minister Alain Berset has indicated that current restrictions are unlikely to be loosened anytime soon. 

Although Swiss citizens and residents are not prohibited from leaving the country, the government has issued a recommendation that all non-essential trips abroad be cut

However, even for those looking to go abroad, the lack of international flights and restrictions on entry to non-nationals and residents in neighbouring countries has meant that crossing the border is an impossibility for many. 

Even where entry to enter another country is possible, there may be a compulsory quarantine period of 14 days which is likely to put a dampener on holiday plans. 

READ: Coronavirus in Switzerland: Why have the French and Italian-speaking regions been so hard hit?

‘We have no influence’

In a press conference late on Monday, Berset said that despite the progress being made in Switzerland, a return to frequent cross-border travel would again put the country at risk of a new spike in infections. 

Berset said that at a time when internal travel in Switzerland was discouraged, the main focus of every resident of Switzerland must be to comply with the restrictions rather than plan trips abroad. 

“We can achieve a good situation (in Switzerland) up until summer, but we have no influence as to what happens in other countries.”

Berset indicated that the country was monitoring everything happening abroad, however said that at this stage there was no indication as to when the recommendation against non-essential travel would be lifted. 

Berset said the most likely course of action would be for the government to reconsider travel advice in the third round of lockdown relaxations on June 8th, when the government may be looking to loosen rules on domestic tourism. 

Currently, travel across cantonal borders is discouraged but not completely banned. Tourism facilities have however been closed across the country. 

Wanderlust on the rise

From cross-border jaunts into Italy and France to longer trips to Paris and Berlin, search engines have reported an increase in wanderlust among Swiss internet users. 

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A study by Swiss research company Baar ZG showed an increase in searches for city breaks to London, Paris and Berlin. Searches to these major European cities increased by approximately 600,000, 400,000 and 200,000 respectively during the previous 30 days. 

The study also found that despite the lockdown, there have been few increases in searches for long-haul destinations, with Swiss residents preferring to search closer to home. 


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