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What’s changing in Switzerland this week?

From school re-openings and new rules in Bern restaurants, to the suspension of an international train service, these are the events in Switzerland this week.

What's changing in Switzerland this week?
Masks are required in schools in some cantons. Photo by AFP

Schools

Classes are resuming in the cantons of Appenzell Innerrhoden, Jura, Neuchâtel, Graubünden, Lucerne, Nidwald, Uri, Valais, Zug, Zurich, and the French-speaking part of Bern.

As is the case in the 11 cantons where schools re-opened on August 10th, masks are not required in primary classes, which include kindergarten to sixth grade in most regions.

READ MORE: Masks or no masks? How some Swiss schools are re-opening this week

Of the schools resuming this week, only Bern, Jura, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, and Zürich require masks in secondary and vocational schools, when the distance of 1.5 metres cannot be respected, and in the absence of physical protection such as plexiglass walls.

And while originally schools in Solothurn, which re-opened on August 10th, did not require masks, from Monday mouth and nose protection will be mandatory in and outside classrooms.

Contact tracing compulsory in Bern restaurants

Photo by AFP

From Monday, indoor customers of restaurants and bars in the canton of Bern will have to leave their contact details.

The new rule goes further than the federal law, which stipulates that registration is only mandatory in cases where the distance of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained.

The Health Department said the regulation is enacted because “in initial contact tracing experiences the data provided was insufficient”.

Now, in addition to their name and phone numbers, customers will also have to provide their date of birth and their full address.

This new rule does not apply to terraces and outdoor spaces.

Temporary suspension of rail service to Italy

Photo by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB)

If you are planning a train trip to Milan in the coming two weeks, you will have to find an alternate means of transport.

From August 16th to September 6th, Eurocity trains connecting Geneva, Lausanne, Basel and Bern to Milan will not run, due to maintenance works on both sides of the Italian-Swiss border.

However, Trenitalia runs an “EC bus” four times a day between Milan and Brig with stops in Gallarate, Stresa and Domodossola. Lasting 4 hours 45 minutes, this route represents an alternative to the journey via the St. Gotthard for travelers from Valais.

 

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TRAVEL

IN DETAIL: Which Covid measures will the Swiss government decide to relax on Wednesday?

The Swiss government will announce a further relaxation of coronavirus measures on Wednesday afternoon, including rules relating to travel, masks, sport, restaurants and events. Here's what we know so far.

IN DETAIL: Which Covid measures will the Swiss government decide to relax on Wednesday?
Switzerland looks set to relax mask rules from June 28th. Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

The Federal Council will announce its decision this afternoon about which coronavirus measures should be further relaxed, with the changes expected to come into place from June 28th. 

The restrictions that the government would relax include upping the number of people allowed to gather together in and outdoors, permitting more people to sit at tables inside restaurants as well as on terraces, and lifting of mask requirements for outdoors.

Vaccinated tourists from third nations will also be allowed to come to Switzerland from next Wednesday.

Authorities have previously said these restrictions will be relaxed if the epidemiological situation and outlook remain good.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Mask rules to be lifted outdoors, in the workplace and at high schools

From June 28th, masks will no longer be required in busy, publicly accessible outdoor areas. 

Masks are currently required outdoors in bus stops, train stations, leisure facilities and on chair lifts. 

Masks will also no longer be required in the workplace. 

READ MORE: Switzerland to lift mask requirement in outdoor areas from June 28th

However, mask rules will remain in place where staff interact with customers, i.e. in retail outlets and restaurants. 

Masks will also no longer be federally required in grammar schools, technical secondary schools and vocational schools.

However, the Federal Council indicated that some cantons may continue the existing mask rules in educational institutions. 

Pubs and restaurants

Capacity restrictions will be loosened at pubs and restaurants. 

While the number of people per table will be raised from four to six, outdoor tables will no longer have an upper limit. 

Rules for mandatory seating will also be lifted in outdoor areas, meaning that people will again be able to drink while standing and move around. 

Pubs and restaurants will still be required to collect contact details and everyone moving around inside will still need to wear a mask. 

Nightclubs and discos open to those with Covid certificates 

Nightclubs and discos will again be allowed to open, although entry will be restricted to those with covid certificates. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland last week, nightclubs are classified as ‘red’ under Switzerland’s covid certificate rules – which means only those who have tested negative, been vaccinated or recovered from the virus will be allowed to attend.

Attendees must demonstrate compliance by bringing a Covid certificate. Click the link below for more information.  

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass allow you to do?

A maximum of 250 people will be allowed to attend, but masks will not be required provided. 

Venues must collect contact details. 

Events to be allowed again

The rules relating to events will also be relaxed. Up to 1000 people can take part in an event without a covid certificate if they are seated, while the maximum for standing events will be 250 people. 

These limits apply both indoors and outdoors. 

Private events can take place without masks with a max of 30 people (indoors) and 50 people (outdoors). 

Sport

Capacity restrictions on outdoor and indoor sport will be wound back, while indoor sports will still be required to have masks provided distance cannot be kept. 

Travel

Quarantine requirements and other entry restrictions will be completely dropped for people entering from the Schengen area. 

Only countries in the Schengen region which have a high prevalence of Covid mutations would face entry restrictions. As at June 23rd, this includes Brazil, Canada, India, South Africa, Nepal, and the UK.

From outside the Schengen zone, Switzerland is set to open up to vaccinated travellers. 

This includes people from the United States. 

“In view of the positive developments in the epidemiological situation and the progress made in the field of vaccination, the Federal Council is proposing to greatly relax the prescriptions and health measures at the border for people entering Switzerland”, authorities said.

This means not only that there would no longer be any testing or quarantine requirements for vaccinated arrivals for citizens of Schengen area states, but also for those coming from third nations, that is, countries outside the EU / EFLA.

Filling out the passenger locator form will still be obligatory for all passengers arriving by air, but not for those using land transportation.

More information is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: Switzerland set to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers, including Americans

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