Switzerland to carry out random checks to ensure quarantine compliance

Travellers coming to Switzerland from ‘high-risk’ nations must self-quarantine for 10 days. But not everyone is complying with this rule and Swiss authorities say they will now carry out random checks.

Switzerland to carry out random checks to ensure quarantine compliance

NOTE: This story has been updated. Please click here for more information

The requirement was put in place for those returning to Switzerland from countries considered as unsafe because of the high number of Covid-19 infections there. 

These nations are Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Chile, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Qatar, Colombia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Moldova, North Macedonia, Oman, Panama, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Serbia, South Africa, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States.

People from these regions must inform local health authorities of their arrival in Switzerland and stay in quarantine at home for 10 days, without going out or receiving guests.

But according to NZZ am Sonntag, less than half of the people returning from these countries actually self-quarantine. 

Based on official numbers, the newspaper calculated that some 6,000 people arrived from countries at risk in recent weeks. But only 2,328 reported their return to cantonal health authorities and complied with the quarantine requirement.

The authorities initially said that informing the local health department of one’s return from a country at risk would be voluntary and based on individual and social responsibility.

However, given the wide non-compliance with the quarantine rule, officials now say they will carry out random checks on flights and buses arriving in Switzerland.

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

Patrick Mathys, the head of The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) told RTS television that passenger lists from 20 to 30 weekly flights arriving from risk countries are now being given to the cantons. 

Cantonal health offices will then follow up on the lists to ensure that travellers are quarantined.

“I think we need to send a signal that at least random checks are taking place”, said Basel cantonal doctor Thomas Steffen.

FOPH estimated that about 10 percent of coronavirus cases in Switzerland are imported by people returning from abroad.

Those found not to respect the quarantine requirement will be fined up to 10,000 francs.




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Switzerland to cut quarantine period for vaccinated and extend current measures

Switzerland will shorten the obligatory quarantine for anyone testing positive for Covid to five days, while extending the current measures until at least March. The duration of immunity for the Covid certificate will also be shortened.

Swiss Interior and Health Minister Alain Berset gestures during a press conference.. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)
Swiss Interior and Health Minister Alain Berset gestures during a press conference.. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Switzerland on Wednesday announced a range of changes to the existing Covid measures. 

As had been widely reported ahead of the announcement, the Covid quarantine period for positive cases was shortened from the current ten days to five for vaccinated and recovered people. 

People can leave quarantine after five days, provided they are symptom free for 48 hours. Based on the new advice, it does not appear a person needs to test negative – although the government has been contacted for a confirmation on this question. 

EXPLAINED: Why did Switzerland relax Covid quarantine rules?

The quarantine change applies both to people who have tested positive and those who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive. 

“Close contact” will also be redefined. Now it will not include everyone someone with Covid has had contact with, but will be limited to the people they live with and people who had “regular and close” contact with a person who tested positive. 

The close contact quarantine will not apply to people who have had a booster in the past four months, but it will apply to those who have had two doses.

The unvaccinated will need to remain in quarantine for the original ten days. 

Cantons can decide to grant exemption to the quarantine rules. 

The duration of immunity under the rules of Switzerland’s Covid certificate will be reduced from one year to 270 days, i.e. nine months.

This is due to the belief that immunity due either to vaccination or recovery declines earlier than previously thought. 

The 270-day requirement applies to those who are fully vaccinated or to people who have previously had the virus.

This shortening of the time period for the validity of the Covid certificate will apply from February 1st, as with the EU’s rules for international travel. 

The current Covid measures, which are outlined in the link below, will also be extended. 

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s current Covid measures?

While they were set to expire on January 24th, they will now be extended until March 31st. 

The government said the extension was necessary due to the situation in the country’s hospitals. 

Amid skyrocketing infection rates, the Swiss government said it had prepared additional measures which could be implemented quickly and immediately if the situation required it. 

“Should the situation in hospitals deteriorate significantly, the Federal Council can still act swiftly by imposing stricter measures such as the closure of facilities and institutions or by limiting capacity at large-scale events, regardless of the consultation,” the government said in a press release

The government is currently in consultation with experts and the cantons about these and further measures, including tighter mask rules and a change in testing rules.

This consultation will last until the 17th of January, however those listed here are expected to apply. 

For the full list of changes announced you can visit the government site HERE.