Could Switzerland force arrivals from France to go into quarantine ?

On Friday, the Federal Council is discussing the question of whether, due to the high number of infections in France, a quarantine obligation should be introduced for travellers from the country.

Could Switzerland force arrivals from France to go into quarantine ?
Workers from France crowds into Switzerland at Geneva's Thônex border. Photo by AFP

To define a risk area, Switzerland has set a limit of more than 60 coronavirus infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days.

In France, this number is currently 139, and has met the Swiss criteria for a risk country for some time.

According to Tages-Anzeiger newspaper, the Federal Council could decide to declare individual French regions with high numbers of infections to be risk areas — such as Paris and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur — rather than put the entire country on its ‘high-risk’ list. 

This proposal by Health Minister Alain Berset would prevent French border regions from being impacted by such a regulation.

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

If the cross-border commuters from France had to be quarantined, Swiss regions that are dependent on these employees — mainly Geneva, but also Vaud, Basel and Jura — would be hit hard.

With its economy relying heavily on over 125, 000 frontier workers, the Lake Geneva area would be the most affected.

“We have no intention of letting entire swathes of our economy to shut down”, Antonio Hodgers, president of the Geneva Council of State told Tribune de Genéve. 

In Geneva, some 60 percent of the city's health workers live in France.

According to the report, Berset's request for regional risk assessments would  not only affect France: if necessary, it should be applicable to all neighbouring countries — Italy, Germany, and Austria.

Some industries and regions rely much more heavily on cross-border workers – known as frontaliers in French, Grenzgänger in German and frontalieri in Italian – than others. They represent one third of the workforce in some cantons. 

However, this is unlikely to happen, as even during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, cross-border workers were exempted from the entry restrictions.



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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.