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UPDATE: Which countries and regions are now on Switzerland’s quarantine list

Currently, there are 66 countries or regions on Switzerland's 'high risk' list.

UPDATE: Which countries and regions are now on Switzerland's quarantine list
Passengers arrive at Budapest Airport, with a screen showing destinations in the background. Image: GERGELY BESENYEI / AFP

This report has been updated on October 10th and is subject to change. 

Throughout the pandemic, Switzerland slammed shut its borders – even those which had not been closed for more than half a century. 

Only citizens, residents and cross-border workers were allowed to cross into Switzerland during the pandemic. 

So who is allowed to enter Switzerland and under what circumstances? Unless you fit into the above three categories, that all depends on where you are arriving from.

EXPLAINED: Who can enter Switzerland right now?

While borders have again been allowed to open, arrivals from certain 'high risk' countries will need to quarantine for ten days on arrival in Switzerland. 

Any country with more than 60 infections per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days is deemed high risk by the government and will be placed on the list. 

The issue becomes more complicated with border countries. Countries which share a border with Switzerland will have specific regions placed on the list, rather than the entire country. 

Which countries – and regions – are on Switzerland's 'high-risk' list?

Quarantine requirements will apply from certain high-risk areas from July 6th onwards. The list of countries is regularly updated by Swiss health authorities. 

There are dozens of countries on the list, along with four border countries (France, Germany, Italy and Austria) where arrivals from certain regions must quarantine. 

As at October 12th, the list includes dozens of countries or parts of countries: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria (several regions), the Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Faroe Islands, France (several regions), Georgia, Germany (Hamburg and Berlin), Gibraltar, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy (Campania, Liguria, Sardinia and Venice), Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Maldives, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Nepal, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Sint Maarten, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain (not Canary Islands), Tunisia, Turks and Caicos Islands, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

Affected people will be informed on planes, coaches and at the borders, and must register with the local authorities once in Switzerland.

Anyone who appears to be sick must not be allowed to board buses, trains or flights to Switzerland. 

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

How has this changed over time? 

The initial quarantine list had 29 countries. As of end-September, that list is now at 66. 

On August 20th, Spain's Balearic Islands, Belgium, Albania, Andorra, Aruba, Belize, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Guam, Monaco and Namibia were added to the list.

On the same day, Serbia, Singapore, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and Saudi Arabia were removed.

From September 7th, people arriving in Switzerland from Croatia, Lebanon, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates will have to go into mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Belgium and Mexico were removed from the list on September 7th. 

On September 14th, people from nine regions in France and from the Austrian capital of Vienna are also required to quarantine. This was expanded to more regions at the end of September, along with Italy's Liguria.

Then on September 25th Switzerland announced that mandatory quarantine would be imposed on travellers arriving from 15 more countries, including Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands, due to their coronavirus infection rates.

The requirement also applied to seven other European countries — Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovenia — plus Ecuador, Jamaica, Morocco, Nepal and Oman. 

From October 12th, Hamburg and Berlin in Germany, Burgenland and Salzburg in Austria and Campania, Sardinia and Venice in Italy were added. 

In addition, the countries of Georgia, Iran, Jordan, Canada, Russia, Slovakia and Tunisia have been added to the list. Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Namibia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago were removed from October 12th.

Editor's note: Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice. 

 

 

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CANNABIS

UPDATE: What are Switzerland’s rules for cannabis consumption?

Switzerland has a complicated set of rules for both medical and recreational cannabis consumption. Here's what you need to know.

UPDATE: What are Switzerland's rules for cannabis consumption?

Long prohibited and seen as a gateway drug with potentially dangerous impacts, countries across the globe have begun legalising cannabis in recent years. 

While the legalisation for medical use has been widespread, there have also been successful legalisation campaigns in several countries. 

The situation in Switzerland is also in flux and has been complicated by a range of recent changes.

Whether referred to as cannabis, marijuana or hemp, Switzerland’s Narcotics Act qualifies it as “a psychoactive substance”, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being its most intoxicating ingredient.

The law specifies that “only THC is controlled under the Narcotics Act. Other active substances like cannabidiol (CBD) are not subject to the Narcotics Act as they do not have comparable psychoactive effects”.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Switzerland has legalised medical marijuana 

As of August 1st, the use of cannabis for medical purposes will be allowed in Switzerland

Patients who are medically prescribed the drug will no longer need to seek exceptional permission from the health ministry, as was the case prior to August 1st. 

Demand for cannabis-based treatments has risen sharply, with the health ministry issuing 3,000 exceptional authorisations in 2019.

The government “intends to facilitate access to cannabis for medical use for patients” and was therefore lifting the ban on its use for that purpose, it said in a statement.

The previous procedure involved “tedious administrative procedures”, said the ministry. “Sick people must be able to access these medicines without excessive bureaucracy.”

As of August 1st, “the decision as to whether a cannabis medicinal product is to be used therapeutically will be made by the doctor together with the patient” the government wrote

The sale and consumption of cannabis for non-medical purposes will remain prohibited.

READ MORE: Switzerland to lift ban on medical use cannabis

The new regulations could benefit thousands of people suffering from severe chronic pain, it added, including those with cancer and multiple sclerosis.

READ ALSO: Why Basel is about to become Switzerland’s marijuana capital

The law change will also mean that the cultivation, processing, manufacture and trade of cannabis for medical use will be subject to the Swissmedic regulatory authority, just as with other narcotics for medical use such as cocaine, methadone and morphine.

Legality of recreational cannabis is determined by the THC

THC of at least 1 percent is generally prohibited in Switzerland and use of products with this (or higher) content may be punishable by a 100-franc fine.

Of course, if someone is determined to smoke it, 100 francs may not be much a deterrent — but that’s a subject for another article.

“By contrast, possession of up to 10g of cannabis for personal use is not considered a criminal offence”, the law states, as long as it is not used by or sold to minors.

Italy's constitutional court has blocked the latest efforts to legalise cannabis.

Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

And, as with nearly everything else in decentralised Switzerland, “there are still considerable differences between cantons regarding implementation of the fixed penalty procedure”.

However, “cannabis flowers intended for smoking with a high proportion of cannabidiol (CBD) and less than 1 percent THC can be sold and purchased legally”, according to the legislation. 

That’s because, unlike the THC, cannabidiol “does not have a psychoactive effect”.

In other words, low-content THC and CBD will not give the “high” that recreational users seek.

When will Switzerland legalise recreational cannabis?

Currently, small amounts of recreational cannabis are tolerated in Switzerland.

“The decisive factor for classification as a banned drug is how much THC is contained in a cannabis product. If the THC content exceeds one per cent, the product is prohibited. Hashish is prohibited regardless of its THC content.”

As noted by the Swiss government, “If you are caught in possession of a small amount of cannabis (no more than 10 grams) for your own consumption, you will not be fined. In addition, if you supply (but do not sell) up to 10 grams to an adult, e.g. when sharing joints, you will not be fined.”

“If you are caught using cannabis, you may be given a fixed penalty fine of 100 francs.”

In June 2020, the National Council approved a plan to start cannabis trials for recreational use.

The experiments are to be carried out in Switzerland’s larger cities. Basel, Bern, Biel, Geneva and Zurich have all expressed interest in conducting the trials. 

The study seeks to find out how the market for cannabis works – and how to combat the black market. The social effects of legalisation will also be examined. 

At this point, no decisions have been made. However, Swiss authorities have set certain conditions in case recreational use is approved.

The National Council said if cannabis were to be legalised, it must be locally grown in Switzerland – and it must be organic. 

Health Minister Alain Berset noted that legalisation should benefit Swiss farmers even though “very few producers have experience in this area”.

READ MORE: Switzerland backs recreational cannabis trials – with one condition

Can you grow your own cannabis?

In truth, a number of people cultivate marijuana plants on their balconies or in their (secluded) gardens for their own personal use.

As it turns out, the law allows it, as long as it is a variety of the plant that does not have a narcotic effect — that is, the THC content must be less than 1 percent. 

By the same token, cannabis-based products with THC content of below 1 percent can be brought into Switzerland from abroad.

However, the import rules differ depending on the type of product  it is — flowers, seeds, extracts, oils, or other goods.

How much cannabis is consumed in Switzerland each year?

Precise numbers are hard to come by, but according to an article in Le Temps, which based its information on a medical study, about 100 tonnes are consumed in the country annually.

Cannabis remains the largest market in terms of volume: it represents 85 percent of drugs consumed in Switzerland, netting between 340, 000 and 500,000 francs per year.

READ MORE: Drugs and alcohol: Just how much do the Swiss consume?

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