Will Switzerland’s ‘self-enforced’ coronavirus quarantine actually work?

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 8 Jul, 2020 Updated Wed 8 Jul 2020 13:01 CEST
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Switzerland’s coronavirus quarantine relies primarily on personal responsibility rather than monitoring - will it actually work?


Just days into Switzerland’s new coronavirus quarantine, more and more details are becoming clear. 

Unlike in other countries like Australia, South Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand where quarantines are extensively monitored - sometimes including mobile phone tracking and police checks - Switzerland’s quarantine appears to be largely based on personal compliance. 

‘Personal responsibility’

When travellers arrive back in Switzerland, while they are required to quarantine - enforcement is based largely on personal responsibility.

READ: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's new quarantine requirement 

While travellers will either be told on their plane, train or bus about the requirement - or find out about it at their port of entry - it is up to the individual to contact the cantonal authorities and inform them they have returned. 

As the Federal Office of Public Health told Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper, “we primarily rely on the participation and personal responsibility of the travellers to prevent the virus from spreading further”. 

Social control is also relevant, according to the FOPH.


"Furthermore, one shouldn't underestimate the effect of social control. A person who returns from a risk area is usually not the only one who knows about it. Your family, your surroundings and your employer could also be informed about this"

Authorities said that upon arriving in Switzerland from one of the high-risk countries, people must register with “competent authorities” in their canton of residence.

We found this to be quite vague, so we asked the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) to clarify this point.

FOPH spokesperson Daniel Dauwalder told The Local that the “competent” office in questions relating to the quarantine is the public health office (Kantonsarztamt / Office Cantonal de la Santé Publique / Medico Cantonale) of a given canton.

As reported in the Tages Anzeiger, there appears however to be no mode of enforcement should a new arrival from a high-risk country decide not to register with the relevant authorities. 

All that is required will be for the person to assure cantonal authorities that the quarantine will be complied with. 

Gundekar Giebel, media spokesman for the Bern Health Directorate, told the newspaper that Facebook groups have already been started which discuss ways to get around the quarantine requirement. 

Fines of up to CHF10,000

As reported in The Local Switzerland on Tuesday, fines of up to 10,000 francs can be issued for those who fail to comply. 

People who purposefully fail to respect the terms of the quarantine — for instance, by going out or having guests — could be liable to a fine of up to 10,000 francs.

People who negligently do so, i.e. through being unaware of the quarantine requirement, will be liable for a fine of up to 5,000 francs.





The Local 2020/07/08 13:01

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