Will Switzerland’s compulsory quarantine period be shortened?

Swiss media reported this week that health authorities are considering whether to shorten the compulsory 10-day quarantine in effect for people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Will Switzerland’s compulsory quarantine period be shortened?
Authorities may decide to shorten the quarantine. Photo by AFP

There are two kinds of quarantine requirements in Switzerland at the moment.

One is for those found through contact tracing to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive to Covid-19.

Tracing is done through an app or by filling out a ‘contact tracing’ card in bars, restaurants, and on airplanes.

The other group required to quarantine are people arriving in Switzerland from one of the countries that are placed on the government’s list of nations with a high number of Covid-19 infections. 

In both cases, the quarantine is mandated for 10 days.

This poses a problem for many companies whose workforce can shrink overnight because a number of employees have been quarantined.

READ MORE: Quarantine in Switzerland is ‘not a reliable system,' say The Local readers

However, the RTS broadcaster reported that discussions are now underway to possibly reduce the number of quarantine days.

“I wonder if 10 days is still what we need to do. Maybe it would be better to shorten this period with a test after a few days and, if it is negative, release the person from the quarantine and ask them to wear a mask for a period of time”, said Pierre-Alain Schnegg, Bern’s State Councilor in charge of health.

According to Rudolf Hauri, President of the Association of Swiss Cantonal Doctors, health authorities “are discussing shortening the duration of the quarantine by wearing the mask instead”.

However, Virginie Masserey, head of FOPH’s infection control, said that while the matter is being reassessed, “it would be risky to reduce the quarantine, which is already shorter in Switzerland than in other countries, where it usually lasts 14 days”.

Currently about 8,500 people are in quarantine in Switzerland due to exposure, and just over 16,000 after arriving from a country at risk.


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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.