UPDATE: Geneva and other Swiss cantons introduce tighter coronavirus restrictions

Several Swiss cantons have announced tougher measures to fight the spread of Covid-19, going further than the rules implemented by the Federal Council.

UPDATE: Geneva and other Swiss cantons introduce tighter coronavirus restrictions
Geneva and Jura closed their bars and restaurants. Photo by AFP

Last week the Swiss government announced new Covid-19 restrictions that were implemented on October 29th.

While a lockdown is not part of the new measures, masks must now be worn outdoors in all urban areas where “the concentration of people does not allow the necessary distances to be respected”.

There is also an 11pm curfew for bars and restaurants, the closure of nightclubs and discos, as well as the limit of 10 people for private gatherings and 50 for public events.

These measures are ground rules, and each individual canton can implement further restrictions. In other words, while cantons can’t revoke any of the federal measures, they can add their own, more restrictive ones.

On Sunday, Geneva authorities announced a ‘semi-confinement’, to begin on November 2nd,
 which goes beyond Swiss national measures. They include closing all bars, restaurants and non-essential shops in a bid to rein in skyrocketing coronavirus cases.

Warning that Geneva is experiencing a “severe aggravation of the situation”, cantonal authorities also shut down leisure establishments like cinemas, museums, libraries and pools.

People are encouraged to leave their homes only if strictly necessary, though there are no legal bans on moving about.

And unlike the lockdown in the spring, schools will remain open.

READ MORE: Geneva goes beyond national corona rules, shutting bars and restaurants 

Other cantons are also introducing measures that go beyond those mandated on the federal level.

For instance, in Neuchâtel, only five people allowed to gather together in private from Monday, while the Federal Council authorises groups of up to 10.

Jura is also limiting groups to five people from November 2nd, imposing more restrictions from the same day.

All bars, restaurants, museums, theaters, cinemas, and libraries in the canton will remain closed until November 15th.

The canton of Obwalden limits public events to 30 people from Monday, compared to 50 at the national level. The ruling applies to public events indoors and out, but not to political assemblies. The same measure is already in force in Schwyz.

In Lucerne, erotic salons are closed and masks are required in cars for people who don’t come from the same household — measures which also go beyond those mandated nationally.

Also on Sunday, the Swiss ski lift association announced it would make face masks obligatory on all lifts during the coming winter season, including open chairlifts.


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Switzerland to drop vaccine requirement for entry from Monday

More than two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, travel to Switzerland is set to return to normal from May 2nd.

Switzerland to drop vaccine requirement for entry from Monday

Despite winding back all Covid measures domestically on April 1st, Switzerland still required visitors from non-European countries to be vaccinated against Covid. 

Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration said on Twitter late in late April that all remaining entry rules would be scrapped from Monday, May 2nd. 

What were the rules? 

Up until May 2nd, visitors from the EU/EFTA zone can enter Switzerland without needing to show a vaccination or a test. Those from outside the bloc however need to show either proof of vaccination or recovery, or fit into other exception categories, including being under 18. 

This created a somewhat contradictory situation where Switzerland has some of the most relaxed rules in Europe domestically, but a stricter entry framework than many of its neighbours. 

‘Travelcheck’: This tool shows you what you need to enter Switzerland

As a consequence, Swiss tourism authorities warned that travellers from outside Europe, particularly those from the United States, China, India and the United Kingdom, are taking their tourist dollars elsewhere. 

The Swiss Tourism Association STV submitted a formal request in March that the laws be changed, saying they had put Switzerland at a disadvantage. 

How do I know which rules apply?

One of the most important elements to consider with regard to Covid entry rules is that the country where you reside rather than your nationality is the most important aspect. 

Therefore, if you are an American living in France under the current rules, you can enter without showing proof of vaccination, as you are considered to be entering from France. 

With rules constantly changing and official sources sometimes slow to keep up, the best way to determine the rules which apply in your specific case is the Swiss government’s ‘Travelcheck’ website. 

This is available here. 

The site will ask you certain questions about your situation, although no personal details are required. 

You will then receive a tailored response with advice on your entry situation. 

An extensive set of FAQs is available on the Swiss government website here